User:SCarverOrne/The Door To Nowhere
by Eylir of Bruma
- The Waters of Oblivion
“But ever shall Darkness contest the Light, and great were the Powers that breathed the void and laid waste upon one another, and no oath might bind them, so deep were they in envy and perfidy. For once the portals are opened, who shall shut them upon the rising tide?”
THERE ARE MANY curious events happening at every moment in the world, some strange and quiet, with actions disturbing and incongruent with any normal or well known sense, and others which we see in our daily lives, things quite normal to behold and most rather boring or mundane. The factor upon which we view or base these things, though, cannot be figured by rational thought, which presents in itself quite a quandary, for we are beings of limited intelligence and imagination, seeing things strictly in accordance to three dimensions. When it might be possible to speculate about such things, we find ourselves intellectually overwhelmed and rather than continue to seek out that which has presented itself, we merely pause and create something our minds can comprehend. Thus we have aborted our attempts at finding out true answers. Answers cannot be without questions, and when we have stopped asking questions those things from whence the answers came cease to give them.
The events that took place those three months ago at the small house of my sister's family outside of Whiterun has been a persistent matter of reflection, as a horror of abnormality and the knowledge of things in existence that man was never intended to know of. In normal life one may be accustomed to things perverse or disquieting, but when something happens which is in itself so horribly blasphemous and awful, even those minds can be broken.
I had been attending the Imperial University for the last several years, doing my best to become a master of Tamrielic philosophies whilst also enjoying the Cyrodiilic countryside. The Imperial City itself was full of legend and wonder, and a sense of mystery hung over the city with its white spires and imbricated rooftops.
It was on that ordinary morning in Rain's Hand that I had received a letter from my sister's husband Dyntr stating that my sister’s health was failing, and the cost of healing poultices and herbs were having a heavy strain on their finances. It was not out of the ordinary for my family to request me to visit, but I did find it rather odd for such a request as to stay with them while paying for a room, as it was not their way to ask favors regarding money. I resolved that since classes was let out for the summer, I would go to spend the duration of my vacation with them and return in early autumn. The next day’s afternoon found me taking the carriage ride north, with just a pack of clothes and a small valise for the trip, filled with books and a notebook. I made the time reading some papers from the University of Gwylim Press, and making notes of the subjects that interested me so as to busy myself with studying during the free time I would surely have during my stay.
Eventually the carriage arrived in Helgen, where it was arranged for me to rendezvous with Dyntr. As I disembarked I saw him idly standing by his horse, a tall well-dressed man not yet passed into old age. His brown hair was beginning to gray, presumably from the stress of his wife’s illness, and his once semi-muscular physique had turned to a softer, more inactive girth. He looked up and waved, and I returned it as I walked over to him. “Hello Eylir,” he said. “You’re looking well.” He smiled and extended a hand.
“How are you, Dyntr?” I asked as I clasped his hand. He shook his head and took my packs from me, placing them securely on the back of the horse. “Time hasn’t been as good to me. Too many years of stonework has finally caught up. I’ve had to leave that work and settle for what odd work I can find. My back pains me fiercely at times, and I've no doubt that sooner or later it’s going to just give out on me. Which is why I had the displeasure of asking if you wouldn’t mind staying with us for a while.”
Time has a very particular habit of making certain uncomfortable silences last for what seems like an eternity. We both began the long walk to the house. I found myself relieved that he was in no mood to participate in meaningless small talk, and quietly took in the countryside.
Dyntr and my sister, Aldrif, had moved since the last time I had seen them. The drastic change in their monetary status had forced them to move to a more affordable home, and they had written me before telling me all about their finding of a house in the mountainous wooded area southwest of Whiterun. As we at last reached the path to the house, I saw that the edifice was horribly ancient and slightly dilapidated, as if care for it had been neglected for at least the past fifty years or more. The last vestiges of paint were peeling off the walls, and a few shutters creaked on their rusty hinges. The two level building was topped by an attic with two small dormer windows which seemed to be so caked with dirt seeing through them must have been an impossibility. Even the cellar, it seemed, was slipping away from the rest of the building. It looked like the house would fall over in a strong wind. The cause of this, Dyntr explained, was that the landlord from whom they leased the property was a seedy person, who steadfastly refused to tend to any part of it. Had they had another place to go, the place easily could have been condemned.
The house itself was set off the main thoroughfare, with thick woods almost entirely surrounding it. A glance at Masser's climb into the night sky told me it was getting late indeed, and the darkness of my surroundings already seemed to press in on me.
We entered the house through the rear door, into a small mudroom where I hung my cloak and hat before progressing through the door that led to the spacious kitchen. My host led me through into a dining room, where a small but ostentatious brass chandelier hung precipitously from a chain above the sizable round table. The wooden floorboards creaked beneath us as we then entered the living area, where Dyntr offered me a seat on a comfortable chair carved with nordic folk imagery, beside an end table bearing the same decorative motif, upon which were stacked various meats and cheeses. He fetched a heady mead for us, and we sat idly chatting for near an hour’s time.
A tired yawn from my host had us making our way up the narrow staircase, and he led me to the a spare second bedroom. The room was small, with cheap furnishings and a window overlooking the garden, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit displeased at the fact that their disused crates, barrels, and other stored items had been carelessly stacked along one of the walls, undoubtedly because of the trouble it must have presented for them to put them in the attic. Dyntr placed my bags beside the tall dresser on the far wall of the room, bid me a goodnight, and withdrew himself to retire. Not quite ready for sleep, I unpacked my things, and upon completion of that task sat on the bed reading.
After an hour or two, drowsiness began overcoming me, and I undressed and crawled into the small stiff bed. My last conscious thought that night was of how odd the wind outside sounded as it flowed through the branches of the trees, seeming like the breathing of a living entity.
I was awakened by the morning sunlight streaming in through the windows of my room. The sun was rising high and the hour was later than I had intended to wake, so I hurriedly went through my morning routine and made my way downstairs.
Dyntr was sitting at the wooden table, idly chewing at a bit of roast meat. Aldrif, it seemed, had woken early and gone out to the market before I was up. I got myself a plate of cheese and sat down at the table.
It seemed that Dyntr’s own health had started to fail about the time he and Aldrif learned of her malady, the nature of which remained an enigma. His skin was now a pallid contrast to its former bronze tan he had always had from his work as a stonemason. His eyes seemed small and shrunken back in their sockets, and a slight tick had begun to manifest itself in his right eye.
“How did you sleep?” he asked me. He raised his eyes from the paper, and offered me a slice of day-old bread.
“Quite well, actually,” I replied. I accepted the bread and bit into the cheese. Dyntr’s gaze hovered on me for a moment.
“Well, Allie should be back soon. Never stays out much later than midday. I think she wanted some help on some sort of project she’s working on. I suppose that’s one thing the two of you share in common, that scholar's mind that will never stop working.”
Dyntr smirked a bit and sighed. He shifted in his chair and put down his food, leaning in towards me. “Which makes things all the more funny, see. You know I grew up with Jarl's wizard, right? Well, it seems that he's looking for an apprentice of sorts, and he thinks I should be learning a thing from him here and there while doing the more menial work he's not befitted to. The recompense would be more than ample, and I think the whole idea is great. Allie says she does too, but you can tell it in her eyes that she’s afraid to be alone these days. Which is another reason why I wanted you to come.”
I had sensed an ulterior motive behind Dyntr’s request, and although it being not so entirely shocking, it was definitely not something that I would have expected. “Anyway, I’m sure you’ll notice me down in the cellar doing my research plenty of times around here, but I don’t want it to seem like I’m trying to avoid you. I really do appreciate your being here, but I also would like to begin apprenticing as soon as possible.”
Our conversation was interrupted by the sound of the door opening and closing. Moments later, Aldrif came into the dining room, grinning ear to ear at the sight of me. I was sad to see she had become a shadow of her former self; her once rosy cheeks were now a ghostly white, and her skin seemed to hang loosely off her skeleton. Her hair, which had once been long fiery red curls, now was thin and sparse. She walked over as I stood and hugged me, planting a kiss on my cheek.
“Eylir! It’s been far too long, why haven’t you come to visit sooner?” Her excitement shone like a lighthouse’s fire as she seated herself at the table. I sat, and gave Dyntr a coy look as he grinned at my obvious unease at the statement. “Oh, you know how studies can be,” I started. Aldrif grinned and shook her head.
“You just remember who used to help you study before you ever left for Cyrodiil,” she said, and disappeared back into the kitchen. Dyntr laughed and stood up, then disappeared down the stairs to the cellar.
I remained at the table. I glanced about the room and saw a door that curiously had escaped my notice before. The door itself wasn’t in any way out of the ordinary; just a typical wooden door as one might see leading into any room in a house. But where it could have led I was unsure, as the opposite side of that wall was merely the mudroom from which I entered the previous night. Curiosity bested me, and I stood and walked over to the door. I took the handle and turned, the door opening towards me. There was nothing on the other side besides the blank wooden wall of the dining room.
The day went by quickly, my sister and I working on her latest venture into the school of Restoration while Dyntr spent most of his time in the study downstairs. Around dusk we all had dinner in the dining room, and I thought it a good enough time as any to inquire about what I had cleverly referred to as the “door to nowhere.”
My previous curiosity was quickly relieved when Dyntr explained to me it was just that, a door that had once been intended to make the mudroom accessible to the rest of the house without having to trudge through the kitchen. For whatever reason, though, the home's builders simply hadn’t done so, thus the door and frame had simply been left standing.
After dinner we adjourned to the living area for a pint of ale, catching up on old times and the more recent events our individual lives had underwent. Soon though, it was late, and upon bidding Dyntr and Aldrif a good night, retired to my room.
The next day passed without event, as did the next. Weeks went by, and I was beginning to get used to the old house, and with the time away from classes everything was almost beginning to have a relaxing effect. Dyntr had started his apprenticeship with the Jarl's wizard, and spent most of his free time in his study. Aldrif engrossed herself in her usual activities, and I spent most of my time studying. It wasn’t until the following day that things began to break out of the usual.
I had risen early and was sitting in the living area reading about the exploits of one Destri Melarg in the deserts of Hammerfell when Aldrif came down the stairs. “Good morning, Eylir,” she said. I answered the same without looking up, still engrossed in my reading. Aldrif went to the kitchen to fetch a cup of water, and moments later I heard her scream. I raced to the kitchen to see what was the matter. Aldrif stood by the cooking pot with her back to me. She was still wearing her nightrobes and cap, and she stood gazing into the reflective surface of the window nearest to her. Her cup lay shattered at her feet.
“Aldrif, what is it?” I questioned. Aldrif turned to me, tears in her eyes, and removed her nightcap. I gasped and dropped my book.
Aldrif’s hair, which had been as thin and sparse as the desert grasses of which I'd been reading, was now a mass of red, curly locks, hanging far below her shoulders. “It’s a miracle,” she choked out between sobs of joy. I stood flabbergasted at the spectacle before me.
Dyntr suddenly came rushing into the room. “By the Eight, Aldrif…” he started. Aldrif embraced him.
“It’s a miracle, Dyntr. My hair, my skin, I can’t believe it!”
“How could this happen?” I asked. “This is absolutely incredible.” Aldrif wiped her eyes and laughed a little.
“It’s the work of the Divines.”
They had gone to the city after that. The apothecary and healers were baffled, citing that the sickness that had been slowly spreading through her body had made a complete reversal, and no signs of disease could been found in her. Dyntr and Aldrif returned that evening, and I could see they couldn’t have been happier if they had found a full sack of septims. The day had left us all tired, so we elected to go to bed early.
It was late when I was woken by the sound of heavy footsteps on the stairs below me. Curious, I quickly dressed and went down the rickety stairs, careful not to let them creak under my weight. A pale glowing light met me at the bottom, and I looked to see a candle burning on the mantle in the dining room. I looked about, and seeing no one, I checked the whole of the downstairs. Finding no one, I returned to the dining room to examine the candle. It was simply a normal candle, burning upon a black iron holder. I was about to head back upstairs when I noticed the flame of the candle flicker, as if a slight draft had fallen upon it. This didn’t seem out of the ordinary in a house such as this, but in the flickering light of the room I saw that the door to nowhere was ajar, and a slight radiance was emanating from within the doorway.
Thoroughly confused, I slowly opened the door. Where before only the wall of the room had been, there were now stone steps leading down, the false panel which has disguised it pushed haphazardly aside. There was a torch about ten feet down, which lit the dark stairway. The walls were of carved stone, which alone was beyond my comprehension, for they were not that of a constructed wall, but seemingly as though they had been roughly hewn out of solid rock.
I grabbed a torch, and casting aside my bewilderment and initial fear, I started down into that black aperture before me. The stairway itself wrapped around to the left as it went down, and seeing no other torch than the one at the top, I held forth my own. The sharp flickering of the light cut through the darkness, and I continued down the steps, awing at the passageway that in itself should not be there.
The length of the stairway was phenomenal, and upon reaching the bottom felt that I must be a great very distance beneath the ground. I looked around, and found myself in a semi-circular room, the walls being the same roughly hewn stone as the stairway. There were two passageways ahead of me, both leading to the ahead and to the left or right. Between the two passageways was a statue of a being, carved of a greenish soapstone I could not readily identify. I dare not say the statue was that of a man, for the statue showed a creature that vaguely suggest anthropological amorphism, a squat figure with vestigial wings, a bulbous head that instead of a nose or mouth, a mass of tentacles protruded from its face.
I was appalled at this ghastly sculpture, a product of a morbid artist whose twisted mind had brought to life such a horrid creation. Now I had to decide which way to continue, though the right passage or the left. I held my breath and strained to hear anything that might give away some sort of clue as to which direction I should take. I could hear nothing over the beating of my own heart. An odor caught my attention then, the smell of decay or something of the sort, coming from the passage at my left. I gave preference to my nose and cautiously began down the right passageway.
I could hear a steady dripping somewhere as I walked along. The whole place was moist and cold, and I couldn’t help but picture myself walking through the catacombs of some ancient necropolis. The light of the torch lit the way ahead of me, and the same chiseled stone loomed despondently from the walls. After what was surely at least half an hour, I came to another stone stairway. I peered down, and saw only their roughly hewn edges disappearing into inky blackness. Holding the torch ahead of me, and keeping my hand along the wall for support, I made my way down the stairs.
For ages it seemed I walked these stairs, and the further down I went, the closer the ceiling pressed upon me, until I found myself bent over at the waist. As I progressed, I began to see light filtering through the darkness below me. I reached the end of my descent, and found myself standing in a large chamber. The rock walls were covered with moldering tapestries, and the room was furnished with one great stone table. Torches flickered on the walls around me, and I felt the sudden overwhelming urge to flee, that something about this place was horrible and ancient, and not meant to be seen by the eyes of man.
Within an instant, this feeling was reaffirmed, as a figure rose from behind the stone table. It was Dyntr! Wearing flowing black robes, he placed upon the table a book of seemingly immense antiquity. His right hand held aloft a dagger, and an iridescent glow began to permeate the room as he slowly began to speak.
I held fast to the wall, for as he spoke these words the table upon which he sat the book began to warp, as if the natural laws of Mundus held no power over it. It shrank and swelled, as if a living beast drawing in ragged breaths, and I held back a cry of shock as a form began to manifest on the surface of the table. As it came to be more perceptible, I saw its shape was not that of man or mer. It was taller than two grown men, and gargantuan, bulbous limbs hung from its sides. Rubbery tentacles protruded from its abdomen, and the thing's face was a mass of feelers, all striving for cognizance of its environment. Of legs, it had none; merely a long mass of flesh meeting the floor.
Dyntr raised his hands to this creature, and he laughed maniacally. The monstrosity leaped from the stone table, and began to shamble its way in my direction. Great pseudopods pushed the thing along, and I heard Dyntr’s voice call out as this utter abomination moved closer to me with every second. “I’m sorry, Eylir, but it needs to be fed. We made a deal, this thing and I. Aldrif’s health would be restored so long as I came to this place and brought it someone for which it could feed upon. Don’t worry, the beggars I brought it before died relatively quickly.”
I now knew that all those nights spent in his study, Dyntr was not merely studying the notes and lessons of a wizard's apprentice. He was searching for passages in blasphemous tomes to conjure creatures like this beast that now stood before me. And I had been lured to this place as easily as a hound to a plate of meat.
As the creature closed in on me, some primal instinct took hold of me, and I flung myself away from its grasp. Landing near Dyntr, he growled in anger and came running at me, his dagger held high above his head. I held his arm away and spun my back against him, using his inertia to throw him into the beast. I grabbed the book from the table, and turning back to the stairs I saw Dyntr held by the monstrous thing, like a piece of meat tossed around by a child. Dyntr screamed, and the beast tore into him ravenously.
Horrified, I turned away from the sight, and desperately scrambled up those interminable stone steps, through the dark passage that held the decadent statue, and back up those spiraling stairs that led through the door to nowhere and back to the world above. I raced frantically up the stairs to Aldrif’s room, and when I entered the room, I collapsed into a heap on the floor. Where Aldrif once slept, a gaunt, pale woman with sparse red hair lay staring into nothingness.