barnabas_truman: (young whistler)
It was the Yuletide, that men call Christmas though they know in their hearts it is older than Bethlehem and Babylon, older than Memphis and mankind... ("The Festival")

Click here for the beginning and middle. )

...and here for the end, which is longer than I thought, so I'm putting it behind a cut too. )



Wow. I've started writing a lot of short stories recently but I think that's the first of them that I've actually finished. Happy new year, and Nodens bless us, every one!
barnabas_truman: (Default)
(click here for the first part) )

"Pleased to meet you, Nyarlathotep," said Howie, because it always helps to show good manners. "Can you tell me the True Meaning of Christmas?"

Nyarlathotep blinked. Then he blinked again. His face was utterly expressionless.


"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie repeated, a little more slowly, in case the man had not heard. "Is it all just about giving and receiving presents?"

The dark man smiled, and it was not a nice smile. He spun around three times and vanished, and in his place was a dusty wooden crate, tied up in Gordian knots and others still stranger. Howie felt an almost irresistible urge to rush gleefully forward and open the crate, yet at the same time he somehow knew that it held nothing but lashing tongues, razor teeth, and an ancient nameless hunger, so he stood his ground.

NO, said the box, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.


"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it more about an abstract spirit of the joy of giving?"

The knots on the box twisted and turned, and suddenly in its place was a hideously bloated corpse with a long haggard beard, wearing a blood-red fur robe and carrying a large bag full of unpleasant things.

NO, said the corpse, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.


"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it about candles on a tree?"

Woody limbs sprouted from the corpse's belly, and grew and grew into a twisted mockery of a mighty oak, its roots like tentacles and its branches on fire.

NO, said the tree-thing, THAT IS NOT THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.


"Nyarlathotep, what is the True Meaning of Christmas?" Howie asked. "Is it about a little baby, born in a manger an eon ago?"

The tree-thing's blazing branches twisted and straightened until the wood formed a blasphemous crucifix, covered in dried blood and impaled with rusty nails.

NO, said the cross, AND YOU KNOW NOTHING OF EONS.


Howie thought for a moment, and tried reaching deeper into the past.



[Yes, I am going somewhere with this, and I already have the ending fully written out in my head. More tomorrow if I have time between laundry and grading.]
barnabas_truman: (Default)
It was Christmas Eve, and Howie Lovecraft had already opened an early present: a brand-new hardcover copy of The Thousand Nights and a Night, with all his favorite stories and plenty of engravings! But it was late at night, and everyone else had gone to bed, and the lamp was too bright for this time of night,
and the story about the djinni
  that the parrot was telling to the donkey
    within the story that the magician was telling to the vizier
      within the story that the sailor was telling to the porter
        within the story that Shahrizade was telling to the king
was growing a little... tiresome.

So Howie put down his book and reached to turn out the light. But as his hand brushed against the side of the lamp, there was a POOF! of smoke and a flash of light, and a mighty djinni stood before him!

"Hark, mortal! I am the--" began the djinni, but

"The djinni of the lamp! Wow!" interrupted Howie.

"I see my reputation precedes me," the djinni grumbled. "Very well, what is your wish?"

Howie thought for a moment. He had always meant to spend some time carefully planning out some well-worded wishes, just in case, but had never gotten around to it. One thing he knew, though, was that it would not do at all to be cliché--he had read about plenty of characters who wished for wealth or power or mountains of candy, and they all came to rather nasty ends. He had better be original, then.

"I wish," said Howie, who had been wondering about this recently anyway, "to learn the True Meaning of Christmas."

"Hoo ha ha!" laughed the djinni unpleasantly. "Then learn it you shall!"

The powerful spirit clapped his hands. Howie felt a rushing sensation and heard the sound of wind in his ears, and it looked as if all the world had suddenly turned both completely dark and blindingly bright at the same time. When it was all over he found himself floating in nothing, with no floor beneath him nor walls around him. As his eyes adjusted, he saw starry night sky all around him. The vastness of space spread out in all directions, including below, if "below" even made sense here.

But far in front of him Howie could catch occasional glimpses of something not entirely visible and somehow very very wrong--a colossal sprawling mass of pseudopods and blind eyes, writhing madly to the insane melodies of reedy pipes played by dancing demigods all around it. Howie stared at the Thing in horror, and somehow knew that It was the Daemon Sultan at the center of the universe, the Blind Idiot God that controls everything and knows nothing.

"Neat!" he thought.


One of the formless demigods, as though it had heard Howie's thoughts, put down its bone-carved flute and walked, or perhaps flew or swam, towards him, becoming clearer in shape as it drew nearer. Its form became the form of a man, swarthy of countenance, perhaps Egyptian, and it seemed somehow uncertain whether he was wearing a modern formal suit or an ancient pharaohic robe.

WHO ART THOU, MORTAL CHILD? this apparition demanded.

"I'm... I am Howard, Son of Winfield," said Howie with confidence, knowing from many stories the proper way to introduce oneself.

HOWARD, SON OF WINFIELD, said the stranger, KNOW THOU THAT I AM NYARLATHOTEP, THE CRAWLING CHAOS, THE FIRST AND THE LAST, THE THOUSAND AND ONE MASKS, MESSENGER AND SOUL OF THE OUTER GODS. WHAT IS THY BUSINESS HERE?

"Pleased to meet you, Nyarlathotep," said Howie, because it always helps to show good manners. "Can you tell me the True Meaning of Christmas?"


[More to come later. I mean it this time.]
barnabas_truman: (mayhem)
...and the "Book Sale" card comes up. While it's in play, any character who ends the turn in the Miskatonic University Library can pay $2 to search the Unique Items deck and take the first Tome that shows up. Naturally I immediately sent all my characters to the Library to start browsing.

Diana the Reformed Cultist got the Necronomicon on her first draw. :-) Next step: hunker down in the asylum and start reading.
(Hazel wonders if the "reformed" part is now going to backslide...)

[Explanation for those who haven't played: in general, you can read a Tome once per turn on your movement phase. On a successful Lore roll, you gain something (either a Spell, a Skill, or some Clue tokens), discard the Tome (you've learned all you can from it), and sometimes lose some Sanity points. The Necronomicon is unique in that it isn't discarded afterwards--you can keep getting spells from it as long as you want... provided you've got the Sanity to spare. Hence going to the asylum, which can restore lost Sanity points. This may seem like metagaming, but the idea of a character reading a tome of forbidden knowledge, going insane, being put in an asylum to recover, but sneaking the tome in and continuing to study it when the doctors aren't looking is VERY much in character for Lovecraft's stories.]

You'd think that Professor Armitage would tell the library assistants NOT to put anything from the Restricted Section on the For Sale tables, wouldn't you?

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