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Transformer of Worlds

Transformer of Worlds

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Published by twingle93

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Published by: twingle93 on Dec 06, 2011
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The Transformer of Worlds byStephen Mark Rainey"So, Mr Black, which world is this?" Ryuhebi asked, his segmented underside tightening nervouslyaround my left arm. "Doesn't look like any place I've ever been.""I don't know," I said, gazing curiously at the uniformly purple sky, the quicksilver sun hovering abovethe eastern horizon, the coal-black lake at the base of a rocky decline, and the sea of gray-green,metallic-looking trees that marched away to the west. "I don't think I've ever been here either. But hehas. Looky there."The crystal sculpture sprouted from a boulder-strewn hillside like a twisted pillar of ice, its styleunmistakably Luserke's. Upon closer inspection, I fancied that the sparkling, thirty-foot-tall constructresembled a monstrous strand of DNA, its double-helix-shaped trunk bristling with thorn-like barbs andcreeping tendrils. It was an evil-looking thing, commensurate with its purpose. As I slowly approachedit, I detected an erratic, warbling hum, disturbingly human in tone, like a chorus of mad Buddhistmonks whose tongues had been cut out. This meant it was active and that danger almost certainlylurked nearby.I started towards it, but Ryuhebi squeezed my arm and said, "I'll check it out. It's more likely to defenditself against something your size than mine."Ryuhebi slipped to the ground, faded, and slithered towards the sculpture, leaving only shallow, S-shaped grooves in the charcoal-like soil as evidence of his passing. For a sometimes-invisible,frequently cranky, and positively outspoken Japanese coral snake, Ryuhebi could exhibit remarkablyselfless behaviour. I had first encountered him in a dreamworld called Daigoramu, where he hadaccosted me and demanded that I pay a tribute of two delectable baby Chiko rats before he would allowme to pass unbitten. The catch, of course, was that Chiko rats did not exist in Daigoramu.However, being anything but the average, half-disoriented, neophyte dream explorer he undoubtedlyexpected, I knew of a kingdom or two where such creatures thrived and managed to procure a pair inrelatively short order. Ryuhebi, impressed almost beyond words with my offering, then and thereappointed himself my inseparable traveling companion. It was a serendipitous meeting, for he and Ishared similar objectives; he no more desired to see his world devastated by Ivan Luserke than I didmine.Few who had met him or even glimpsed his work would deny that Luserke wag a profoundly giftedartist; far fewer, though, would recognise him as one of the most dangerous men ever to walk the earth.But they knew of him in Kadath. where he wove his dreams into fantastic constructs of clay, stone,glass, or pigment, the results of which, possessed of their own malignant intelligence, became the brutal musters of all in their domains. So it was in Cathuria, and in Ulthar. and on the far island of Oriab, and in all the lands that lay at the bottom of the 700 stairs to the realms of deepest slumber.The artist did not create the horrors to which he gave shape; they had long existed in distant, shadowydimensions, beyond the conception of even the most horrifically inspired lunatic mind. No, Luserkewas merely a medium, a craftsman who provided a means for the incorporeal to assume shape. His
 brain, transformed beyond all human limitations by his not-Infrequent communing with these horrors, become the architect of gateways, his works the portals by which they passed from one space toanother, leaving terror, destruction, and despair in their wakes. These eldritch powers were the verydross of creation, hurled in the beginning to inescapable corners of the universe, seething and howlingin insane fury, endlessly seeking to destroy the barriers that contained them.In dreams, certain sensitive Individuals could sometimes perceive their existence—and someunfortunate souls not only became aware of them but connected with them, like receivers tuned tosome esoteric radio broadcast. Inevitably, the dreamers' madness resulted, their minds expanded but permanently tainted by the powers they both revered and dreaded. And Ivan Luserke, whose twistedmeditations drove him to build artistic bridges to those chaotic spheres, used his talents to offer thedross of creation a Foothold into any world that caught his fancy.Ryuhebi had encountered the artist himself on more than one occasion, but had never managed to getclose enough to deliver the fatal bite. Luserkes unique ability to traverse astral burners in the blink of an eye was legendary, and his omnipresent retinue Included at least two drokwights who could seeRyuhebi even when he was camouflaged; in a nutshell, boning a successful surprise attack, the artistwas virtually untouchable.'Something's forming in the west. Mr Black." came Ryuhcbi's voice. After nearly ten years, he stillcalled me "Mr Black.' rather than "Gregory" or even "Greg." His voice sounded more or less like ahuman male lenor with a fine grasp of English, sans any trace of difficulty with Ss and Ls. despite hisforked tongue. "If you cant destroy this priceless objet in about the next thirty seconds, we might aswell hang it up."I took a quick inventory of my armaments, already knowing I possessed nothing that could bring downthe sculpture in time to stop whatever it was summoning. The .45 Colt was useless, and neither grenades nor plastique would detonate in these remote dreamworlds. As fragile as the helix-thingappeared, one could not simply knock it over; well, maybe with a bulldozer, but I didn't sec a handyone lying about just then. I might mention here thai things had not always been so difficult; In the earlydays, I had shattered many of Luserke's best-laid plans with a ballpeen hammer. However, over theyears, his placement of protective force-fields had grown more sophisticated, his concealment of key pieces ever more devious."It's not looking good," I said. "I'm afraid this may have bren a wasted trip.""Maybe not." Ryuhebi said. "WeVe learned at least this much—the things he's attempting to call downare more powerful than ever before. This is the most intense work of his I've ever tasted.""I feel so much better."A new, serpentine trail appeared In the dark earth, heading my way, and a moment later, Ryuhebimaterialised at my feet and slithered up my left leg. He had just settled back in his customary placearound my wrist when a heavy boom shook the ground, a shadow fell over the land, and a foul smellingwind began to rush in from the west, nearly making me gag. The crystal sculpture appeared to waver,as if surrounded by a heat haze, and then the very air began to boll. Bubbles erupted from its tendriltips, dancing like enraged dervishes before swelling and bursting, releasing thick clouds of sulfurousgas. Then, at the western horizon, beyond the onyx lake, a portion of the sky fell away, and from theresulting black chasm, something gigantic emerged: a hulking, lumbering silhouette that at first
resembled a giant, horned man wrapped in a leathery cloak. But then the cloak unfurled and became a pair of mammoth bat wings, hundreds of feet across, the beating of which made a sound like a tornado.Its golden eyes ignited like a pair of blazing lamps and began to rove to and fro as the beast surveyedits new environs.In all my travels, a more malevolent-looking thing I had never seen."That, if I'm not mistaken, is Pachacutec," Ryuhebi said with obvious distaste. "Ghastly fellow.""Pachacutec?""On your world, it's an Incan name that means Transformer of Worlds. The thing's actual name cannot be pronounced by your tongue or mine."The behemoth took a thundering step forward, into the illumination of the silver sun. I now saw that itshead resembled a crocodile's, with a pair of bony, goat-like horns above its brows, and a sharp, curvingspike atop its tapered snout. Its chest and belly were segmented, almost like Ryuhebi's. but its scalesglittered like metal, refracting the purple sky into rainbow hues that shimmered over its body. Its upper limbs resembled a muscular man's arms but ended in birdlike talons, which bed, her emerald eyesalight with concern."What happened? Where were you?""Nowhere familiar. Luserke had been there, though. Unfortunately, I was too late to do anything abouthis handiwork. It had already opened the way for ... something.""Are you going back?""Now that it's loose, there's little point.""You look a fright. It must have been a bad one."'Very," I said. "Ryuhebi called it 'Pachacutec'. I shall have to look it up What time is it. anyway?""Almost five."Thanks for watching over me.""Happy to do it." Cayce's little smile brightened the room more than the Gold Coast lights outside thewindow, and I sighed somewhat wistfully. I had threatened to propose to her at least 365 times duringthe past year, but something always held me back—probably the knowledge thai my little avocationwas singularly hazardous, and while she understood the reasons for my endeavours, she lacked theability to participate in them as she believed she desired.I had mastered traveling to the dreamworlds when I was very young, initially via the "traditional*means of descending the 700 stairs after entering sleep, then by the more direct method of rendingveils, which allowed an experienced dreamer to move from place to place by sheer force of will. This particular shortcut, however, exposed the dream explorer to the unique danger of becoming entangledin what might be termed "astral perdition"; if he strayed into the wrong realm, or literally fell between

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