It is said Madness is a concept that has no physical form. You can point at... Say... Morningstar, and say "That is Madness incarnate" but you would be wrong. Madness Incarnate is not a person... It is a place. I have seen it. I have stared deeply into it. I type this even now in the Heart of Madness, in the dungeons beneath The Devil's Throne. Outside is nothing but ash... Wicked chains littering the ground, distant echoes of wailing torture. The stink of burning flesh is SUFFOCATING... I am in the realm of a Dead God, in the clutches of The King of Hell. My Charon, was the Gardener of the Devil's Court. His name is Morgan.
He drove us away from the Asylum, speeding like a madman. I could see lights coming from the cells. A fire had started. Good. Burn all the evil there away... Of course from the ashes, something new will rise. Probably just as bad.
Our driver remained silent. Roland thanked him for rescuing us.... His expression was... A sneer. A scowl? It was unpleasant whatever it was. Roland asked his name. He introduced himself as Morgan Sturn, The Gardener of the Court. I asked him he was going to go back for The Piper. He simply said "No."
Being an obviously antisocial sort, and given his general expression and tone indicated an extreme amount of dislike or flat out hatred... The rest of the trip was in Silence.
We stopped at an old farmhouse. Morgan ordered us to get out. We did so, and he followed. He forced us into the old home, pushing and telling us to "Move it." It was a small creaky building, with a couch and a rocking chair and an old time Television in the middle of the room. I remember thinking that the place felt unpleasant.
Morgan moved us towards the center of the room and, and he started doing... Something. The next second it was as if the entire world began burning... The stink of death, fire and ash filled the air and... My eyes were clouded and watering. Smoke was everywhere. It was around us, it was within us. The floorboards, the walls, the ceiling... All was flame and smoke. I felt I was spinning in a whirlwind of ash, a tornado of fire... When it stopped I felt a hot breeze and Morgan grabbed our collars and shoved us through the smoke. When we emerged outside, I was in shock at what I saw. I heard Roland mutter a plea to God and his angels... They weren't listening. I doubt they ever were, to allow something like this place to exist.
An Endless expanse of white, clouds of ash rising through the air. Faint echoes of... Screams and weeping. Morgan pushed us forward, and we climbed atop a steep hill made of bright gray dust. At the summit we looked down and beheld a lake of fire, breathing smoke and ash high into the hidden sky. I turned to Morgan expecting some kind of answer for what I as seeing. He merely glared at me and told me to get moving. As we walked, Roland told me he thought he saw figures within the fire, burning and screaming.
Surely this was Hell.
We walked and saw the gray ash harden and turn black. The silhouette of a structure was visible nearby, though the details were obscured by the wildly blowing ash. Roland got caught on something buried within the dust. He pulled out a long chain and yelped when the wicked barbs cut into his skin. I saw a charred bone attached to the chain. I remember being more careful as I walked, feeling a crunch beneath my feet all too often. It was as if we were treading upon the remains of an army of prisoners, chained together in fire.
The structure remained a hazy mirage even as we walked into it's very maw. Inside it we entered a long hallway as a gate slammed shut behind us of it's own accord. Morgan kept driving us forward, and so I could not take in the details of the hallway. It's color was overwhelmingly Crimson. The bloody color was almost blinding as we entered a large chamber.
It was a large hall saturated with Red. In the center was a large firepit, filled with hot coals and faint embers. Despite the lack of a fire, I found myself unable to look upon it for very long. It filled my heart with a blind panic I had not felt in some time... Since my last encounter with It.
Across the room at the head were two thrones. The larger of the two was empty, while the other seated a dark haired woman in a black waxen robe, with a silver mask in her lap. Her face was cruel. Standing near her was a strange man dancing around silently. He wore a yellow hoodie and a mask with a painted smiling face on it. His dancing stopped as he noticed us. The last was a tall, thin man in a well kept suitcoat and fedora, held tipped over his eyes, with bright red hair drawn into a ponytail and a small, mocking grin.
"Well, well well, look what the hellcat dragged in." he said.
Morgan scowled in reply, as the black robed woman rose up to greet us with a shark's smile.
"Uriel was there, milady. I assume Piper stayed behind to stall him. Where is the King?" Morgan asked the woman.
"The King anticipated this, so don't fret. He is busy holding Uriel back at the moment..." She replied before looking to the other two. "Go ensure The Piper escaped alive." She told them.
The Dancing man bowed and seemed to distort the air as he vanished suddenly. "Geez, I always get the busywork...Ah well, one Piper, coming right up." The other said, giving Morgan a mocking wink as he turned with a swish of his coat, seeming to vanish into the shadows of the throne.
Morgan grumbled something under his breath as the woman beckoned us forward.
"I am the Queen of this Court. I wish to welcome you to the Grove of Fetters my darlings... Oh. You must be tired out from your little adventure with that imbecile Magog. Come." the Black Queen said as she walked towards a dark door on the left side of the hall.
We followed of course. No where to go if we did escape. I knew I did not like these people... Even more than Magog they gave me a horrible feeling just to be around. The Black Queen chatted to no one in particular as we walked, and Morgan remained silent. I noticed he kept one hand near his sword the whole way.
"Our dearest Gardener and our beloved Pattern Juggler do not get along very well. I am afraid. You'll have to forgive their clear disdain for each other. They ought to know better when we have guests, especially ones as distinguished as yourselves..." She said.
"Apologies milady... Rhodes is scum though. It was a mistake to recruit him." Morgan said in response.
To my surprise, the Queen stopped and turned to face Morgan.
"Are you saying our King made a mistake? If you like, I can tell him you think you know better than him when it come to recruiting allies." She said with a horrible smile.
Morgan winced visibly, which is quite telling in my opinion. "No... I would prefer it if you kept that to yourself, milady. Apologies..." he said.
She turned and continued walking until we entered what appeared to be a prison of sorts. Morgan drew his sword completely as he followed behind us.
"My apologies darlings. While we would like to have you free and roaming around... We just cannot trust you to behave, based on your actions while being held by Magog. Don't worry though, I assure you we will be kind hosts, doing everything in our power to ensure your stay is... Comfortable." She said as Morgan forced Roland into a cell.
Then it came to be my turn as we entered a different cell block... Which is where I am even now. This computer is one of the things meant to make me "comfortable." A small slit of a window provides light and allows for some sound to come through from outside... It makes sleeping difficult. Night and day look no different here, and the screaming never stops. But the worst thing? I think I am losing my mind in here. It doesn't make sense. The door is not locked. But I open it and it opens INTO my cell. It is... Hahaha. It can't be real. It is physically impossible. Seeing Monsters do things like this, I can believe. But I am walking through a door into the room I walked out of. And the screams just don't fucking stop. The rain is fire. Storms blow ashes with such force I cannot believe the window does not crack...
Morgan and the Piper have been by to deliver food and water a few times. Piper at least bothers to give the pretense that we are "guests."
I have yet to see this "King." Piper mentioned that the King is being delayed by Uriel. Apparently once the King arrives, Roland and I will be released. So now, all I can do is wait. Wait in the depths of Pandaemonium's dungeons, until what I fear to be the Devil comes to set us free... My question becomes...
Free to do what?