“… The purpose of the scourging
hangs dark in his mind.
Lashing and thrashing him, ah!
But never quite shattering.
One sure path to Avici,
the eternal hell…”
— Saijo Yaso, Tominos Hell
I still remember the events of my awakening.
It wasn’t the first time I’d awoke in the tower — by that time, I’d long since lost count. So many times, I had slipped into a brief unconscious respite only for searing pain to jolt me back to life, wailing in agony.
Despite my cries of pain, I could always perceive that deep throated incantation as I felt a very finely-edged blade slowly carve away slivers of skin from my bare chest. During my endurance of the torments; I saw only darkness, the linen that firmly held my head bound not allowing me to see my abuser.
My wrists and ankles were bound painfully with wire, pinning them back and suspending me at least four feet from the stone floor as a human pendulum. The inability to use my extremities rendered resistance impotent. I could only scream and grind my teeth into the horse bit that gagged me as they sadistically continued to slowly rend flesh from sinew; savoring every second of my misery as they repeated their unholy chant: “Adrayok aduae Jubbilex”.
Sometimes, large patches of skin were stripped away. Other times, it was small slivers, targeted in areas most sensitive to me. Either instance always resulted in me tearing my vocal chords in pain until shock would inevitably cause me to lose consciousness; only to have the damning sting of salt being cast into the exposed wounds rouse me back to life to continue their sinister rites.
This occasion however, I’d decided that I would fight against the urge to slip into the blissful darkness. I would bear the excruciating punishment until either they lost interest in my suffering, or death took me. I could feel my molars dig further and further into the bit with every drawn-out second they spent flaying me alive. I can’t say with much accuracy how long I suffered this time as the pain and the extra effort it costed me to stay awake made it seem as though many hours had passed. When darkness began to cloud my mind once again, unable to continue my endurance; I silently prayed that I would not wake again.
With further descent into the clutches of eternal rest, I tried to make her face, her radiant smile, to be my image of parting grace. The smiling face of my beloved Jennifer on the night of the festival, illuminated by the glow of the fireworks. Over my waxing screams, I tried to remember the sound of her laugh as she’d burrow her face into my chest. Just before the dark void would have me, however, I noticed the incantations cease. The chamber was quiet, save for my groans of pain.
I then felt the linen around my eyes loosen until falling away completely, allowing gravity to pull my head downward to face the stone floor. It was at least a full minute before my vision could compose itself. Directly below me, perched in a pool of blood, was a cauldron containing the discarded scraps of my flesh. As much as the sight horrified and revolted me; I could only utter a weak moan, the frigid air in the chamber stinging my exposed muscle tissues. I looked up, arching my neck up, when I heard soft footsteps approaching to see my abuser.
He wore a dark, scarlet cloak with a hood that completely concealed his face and brandished a small knife in his left hand, dripping with blood. My eyes widened as he approached closer, the blade poised downward and outstretched. Panicking, I tried more vigorously than before to fight against my restraints. As before, it served me little as he grabbed my long hanging hair to force my face closer to him. Even held only mere inches away, I couldn’t distinguish any features from under his hood.
As he raised his blade over my face, I could once more hear the guttural chant: “Adrayok aduae Jubbilex.” My throat too weak and worn, I could only utter a weak moaning as the blade sank deep into my forehead, scoring some manner of sigil or branding into it before cutting deep across the lengths of my arms and legs, allowing the viscous crimson to flow down freely onto the cauldron beneath me. When he was finished, he then removed the horse bit from my mouth. The rush of unobstructed fresh air caused me to cough and wheeze as I sputtered, my voice very nearly depleted; “Who are you?!”
As to reply to my query, the acolyte cocked its head to the side and let out a deafening screech as I felt him push the index finger of its right hand into the cuts on my forehead. I felt a blinding flash of light seemingly coming from within my eyes as I began to envision a small farmland with bright and healthy soil, bearing many crops. I was overwhelmed, my senses overclocked and unable to properly process the heavenly display — for indeed, it had been so long since such a sight had existed that I was sure they ONLY existed in heaven. I saw, gathering the bountiful harvest, was a man and his boy.
They laughed as they toiled, overjoyed with the fruits of their labors. Another flash led the vision to shift to the inside of a dark sanctuary where there gathered three hooded figures, clad in the same uniformed red garbs as the one in front of me, all reciting “Adrayok aduae Jubbilex,” as they knelt in prostrate before a large pit surrounded by candles and a tyrannical idol erected opposite of them, inanimately wielding its dominion over them.
I let out a shrill yelp as I felt the acolyte’s finger push harder into the scorings, feeling the visions burn deeper and deeper within my mind. From inside the cavernous pit, I could see the man and the boy tearing each other apart; the both of them lost to some primal bloodlust in an attempt to cannibalize one another.
I wanted it to stop, but was powerless to make it do so. As long as the acolyte’s finger remained on my forehead, I was forced to continue experiencing the nightmare as I watched the adolescent tear at his father’s jugular with his fingernails. The father retaliated by gouging the eyes of the boy; growling like a rabid hound. I felt the finger dig deep into the carvings as I witnessed the boy, somehow gaining the upper hand over his elder, proceed to drive his father’s head into the walls of the pit. Once the man’s head was but little more than a mess of gore, the youth let out a series of deranged howls and screams as he began to regurgitate a venomous black substance and tear away the skin of his face.
I found it in me to scream once more as I felt the blinding flash searing my mind. I felt my head hang limp again, facing the cauldron below me. My breathing was heavy, as though my lungs were starved, and my vision was slow to recompose itself. My head was swarming, unable to comprehend the ghoulish scene I’d just witnessed! Who were they, and why were they killing each other? I was allowed no avenue to express my questioning to the acolyte before he forced my head upwards once more to meet gaze with him. Before I could so much as gasp, he pinched my nostrils together, forcing my mouth open and jamming the blade inside.
My struggling failed me again as I felt the blade slice into the root of my tongue; once more reciting that familiarly damning chant. My abilities to scream were nulled by my choking as the warm, metallic taste of blood flooded my throat. Like with the rest, my severed tongue was cast into the cauldron. For a moment, I felt I was finally close to death as I sputtered and wheezed; choking on my own blood. Of course, I was again denied this end to my punishment when the acolyte revealed a glowing, scalding shard of iron and forced it into my mouth; cauterizing the gash where my tongue once was.
I truly began to wonder in that moment if I’d not perhaps perished, as many of the others had on the night of the festival — the night it happened, and that I was now condemned to suffer eternally in this abattoir of crimson-stained stone and mortar.
Weakly and with depleted vision, I watched as he used the knife to sever the wires binding my limbs, causing me to plummet to the cold unforgiving stone, before silently collecting the cauldron and quitting the chamber through the stairway at the right end. I was left to lie in a pool of blood; my body broken and rent. As the void crept upon the corners of my vision once more, I began to dream. The image to haunt my subconscious mind was that of Jennifer; her vibrant blonde hair, her sweet and warm smile.
I began to recollect her softly-sweet laughter as we embraced amidst a cheering crowd. I could feel a tear betray me as I remembered the kiss we shared as the blinding blazes burst, illuminating all to a definite degree. The tears came more freely and horror clouded my reasonable thoughts as the sounds of their collective screams pervaded the air around us.
My petrified somnambulism lasted no further, however, when I felt hands grab my wrists and begin dragging me across the stone floor, a trail of blood marking the path behind. Looking up, I could see the blurred visage of a scarlet-garbed acolyte pulling me further into the hallway. I could see but little as I was brought further into the winding staircase, for only about every three feet or so, down the long stone spiral would a torch be mounted in purchase. My body throbbed and ached with every inch that I was dragged along, the exposed muscles and tissues grinding against the rough, cold stone. As I was brought nearer and nearer to the end of the stairs, I began to hear a succession of some of the most tortured wails I’d ever heard.
I almost was certain that they couldn’t have been from human origin. Horrific truth would prove me otherwise, however, when I was dragged out of the stairway and into a new chamber where there was displayed a woman, bound in much a similar manner as I had been. Her suffering, however, was of a wholly more vicious nature. She was mounted upon a giant spear in between her legs, her ankles bound in such a way that forced legs in opposite directions. Her unheeded shrieks for mercy reached an insufferable degree as I saw two of the acolytes then begin to cut across her painfully slender stomach, collecting the robbed viscera into a cauldron just as they had with me.
Unable to bear witness to the vile act any longer, I closed my eyes and did my best to take quiet solace in the fact that it wasn’t my Jennifer enduring this inhuman torture. It was for naught, however, as I felt myself being hoist upright by my arms. My eyes opened once more to see one of them bringing the cauldron closer to me. In an instant, my head was forced down into it and the acolyte began to force handfuls of the entrails into my mouth. My aching body was too weak to offer any meaningful resistance to the acolyte’s molestation as he forced the ill-gotten gore down my throat, causing me to gasp and choke.
As they did this, I could only distinguish a single, monotonous phrase over the poor woman’s screams: “Adrayok, melioss.” I was given no time to ponder what that phrase meant before my head was forced from the cauldron to see one of the acolytes holding a dark grail to my slacked jaw. With preternatural speed and ferocity, my head was snatched back and the viscous black liquid contained in the night-shaded grail was poured into my helplessly agape mouth. The substance was thick and warm, rendering swallowing it nearly impossible. When the last of it was emptied, I began to feel as though the blood-stained confinement was warping around me.
The further I fell into the dizzying trance, the more that mysterious mantra cycled incessantly in my mind. I began to perceive the utterance of the words taking on a discordant quality; as if it were originating from the throats of men, women, and beasts alike; all in perfect unison. That was when, amidst the distorted chaos that was the chamber around me, I saw IT for the first time.
This being; nay — this force appeared to me from the midst of a crimson glow with an avatar that resembled a human being *only* in posture and general shape. The body was sexless and without skin, comprised merely of exposed muscle tissue and organs. The extremities were long and slender (such that laymen may consider them frail) with long, razor-edged talons at the ends of its digits that threatened to disembowel any living creature with but a swift stroke. It was the entity’s head that nearly broke the meager hold I still held with my sanity. The being was without a face — without identity!
In place of that was what appeared to be a mass of twisted, clammy flesh that wriggled and pulsed, as if a living, beating heart were encased within. I could feel the entity’s cacophonous vocals resonating, beating like a drum within my mind. “Adrayok, melioss… Adrayok, melioss,” the entity repeated as it outstretched a slender, skinless left hand and bore its taloned claws deep within my chest. Be it either a product of the delirium addling my mind or of whatever ethereal force it was manipulating, I felt no pain — and yet it was excruciating as the sinewy digits’ grasp tightened around my heart. From all around me; I began to hear, as well as feel their collective screams again.
My body became numb as the arm of the entity slowly fused deeper and deeper into my chest. The more my body continued to join with its; the louder, clearer and pronounced the screams became. Even in writing, I cannot accurately comprehend the nature of the anguished wailing. It was as though a thousand men, women, and children were crying out in a blood-drunk frenzy, having lost themselves to some sort of hysteria.
I began to see them all once again; clustered together with eyes of rage and tearing each other apart with teeth and nails alike. The confines around me continued to shift, morphing into so close a representation of the night of the festival. All around me, I watched as the glowing fireworks illuminated the holocaust. The pressure on my heart tightened as, in petrified sorrow, I was forced to relive that night when I watched those I once knew as family and friends who’d gathered in celebration of my engagement to my beloved, slaughter each other.
This time was different, however, in that I didn’t merely hear or see the carnage — but felt it! Every scratch, every bite, I felt it all; physically, viscerally and mentally! Once they had feasted upon their once fellow brethren, I saw them turn their feral ire upon themselves, ripping and tearing at their own flesh with their eyes draining of the same venom that I’d witnessed in the acolyte’s earlier mirage. *“Jubbilex! Zanctis melioss,”* they cried to the skies above before falling dead upon gore-ridden earth. *“What had begun with blood and flesh,”* the distorted voice boomed in my head, *“so too, shall it end and be reborn in that image.”* In that instant, I felt as though my own body began to unravel itself; watching in horrific revulsion as my own flesh stripped itself away.
I screamed out in abject terror when, all of a sudden, I felt once again the cold stone beneath me. Dazed and hysterical, I examined my environment to find that it no longer resembled the damning premonition. I saw that I was once more being towed down a dim corridor. The further they tugged my battered, shredded body, the more clearly I was able to distinguish distant recitals of the familiarly archaic chanting from ahead. *“Adrayok aduae Jubbilex… Adrayok aduae Jubbilex,”* I heard the repetitions echo off of the stone walls of the hall. The more I listened, the more I began to hear the phantom whispers; “Flesh for the Faceless One…”
“What do they mean?” With the little time I would have to ponder that query, the entity’s statement continued to pervade my reasonable thoughts: *“What began with flesh, shall too end and be reformed by flesh in that image.”* Reaching the end of the prolonged hallway, I was hoisted gracelessly to my feet by my arms by two of the acolytes. Before me was the very same sanctuary from the hallucination. It felt as though I were staring into the very depths of Sheol itself. The only penetrations to the devouring darkness being the small candles arranged around the gaping pit at the far end of the room.
Despite the paltry illumination, I clearly saw the idol from the vision towering over the pit. At first glance, it looked to crudely resemble the form of a human being; with its circular ring to form the semblance of a head and the four fine points beneath to resemble the limbs. It then slowly dawned upon me of the idol’s resemblance to the abominable entity who, in of itself, appeared as but a crude representation of a human. I watched as three scarlet-hooded acolytes who were knelt in worship around the cavernous pit to the gruesome effigy turn to face me, holding aloft their own smaller images of the larger one towering before them and repeating in their Daemoniac tongue: “Adrayok aduae Jubbilex… Adrayok aduae Jubbilex.” My body remained limp, my feet dragging across the rough stone, as the two acolytes restraining my arms forced me forward.
“Adrayok aduae Jubbilex.”
The chanting grew louder and more abrasive the closer I came to the pit, as well as the whispered omens from before.
“Adrayok aduae Jubbilex…”
“Flesh for the Faceless One!”
I tried in vain to shake the ethereal utterances from my thoughts, only seeming to succeed in giving them a tighter grasp on my mind.
“Adrayok aduae Jubbilex.”
It was when I was held only mere inches away from the abysmal pit that my senses were offended by a combined carrion miasma of excrements and decay. I felt my stomach start to turn over on itself and I began to retch. I soon regretted this physical impulse however as, with speed, one of the acolytes before me used the piercing edge of his idol to slice across his palm, producing venomous black blood before forcing me to consume it once again. Then, before I could so much as gasp in fright, I was cast like waste into the abaddon depths of the pit.