Ahriman: Gates of Ruin

Ahriman: Gates of Ruin by John French Read Free Book Online

Book: Ahriman: Gates of Ruin by John French Read Free Book Online
Authors: John French
Tags: Ciencia ficción
Ahriman: Gates of Ruin
    Ahriman: Gates of Ruin

    John French
    ‘Do not pity those who are lost on the path. Pity those who reach its end, and see at last what they were seeking’
    – Malcador the Sigillite, Admonitions to the Solar Lords
    I am a follower who followed his lord.
    My lord was Ahriman, and I am Ctesias. These are the stories of my time in his service, laid down in words as I watch my life fade with the candle that lights these pages. I will die soon, and with me so much of the past will die. There are others that were there, at Ahriman’s side, in that lost age: Kiu, Sanakht, Gaumata, Gilgamos, and later Credus, Ignis and the rest. Some perhaps still live now, but how many remember how things were in that time between the fall of Amon and the search for the Athenaeum?
    Time has a habit of burying lesser events under the weight of later calamity and triumph. The extraordinary seems diminished when compared to the momentous, but it is still important, it still has meaning. So it is that I choose now to write not of the grand and terrible endeavours which would come later, but of the steps which took us there. This is the story of one such step, of how Ahriman took us out of the Eye of Terror for the first time, on our first exodus from the hell that is our home.
    The creature tried to raise its head from the altar. Silver chains clinked as it moved, and symbols on the altar glowed brighter. White candles burned with a steady green light at the edge of my sight, but they did nothing to banish the darkness of the chamber. The only true illumination was the cold glow of my staff, and the glow coming from within the chained creature.
    I say creature, because that was what it was. The spite of the daemon had swallowed the flesh of the human that I had given it as a host. Its limbs had grown and bent with new joints. Black quills had sprouted from its back and shoulders, and the face was an explosion of fangs and red, lidless eyes. The skin stretched over its bones was transparent and the colour of amber. Within its body, organs floated like jellyfish and blood vessels were threads of red light. The man I had taken from the Sycorax ’s machine decks remained only as a twitching pulse of soul light, shrinking as the imprisoned daemon ate it.
    The creature strained against the chains for a second, and then flopped back onto the altar. It hissed at me, its face pulsing.
    I sighed. It was the fourth daemon I had bound and put to the question, and so far each of them had proved as unhelpful as the last. It was not the most powerful daemon I could summon, but it was cunning and knowing. I had more, thousands more, all bound by their true names that I broke into fragments and kept in my memory. The shards of those names scratched at the edge of my thoughts, like insects in boxes. They wanted me to let them out.
    If things did not start going better, some of them might get their wish , I thought. How many more times would I have to go through this tedious cycle before Ahriman at last accepted that there was no way of finding what he sought.
    Knowing him, I was not sure that we would ever reach that point. I was more likely to run out of human hosts, daemons to questions and patience long before he would admit defeat. He had given this task to me and to me alone. While he sat in his tower and cast his mind into the realm of dreams, I had to find a way to do the impossible. I had to find a way out of the Eye of Terror.
    ‘Give it to me,’ I said, and the moisture of my breath fell as a frost through the psychically charged air. ‘Give it to me and I will release you, and burn the memory of your true name from my mind.’
    The creature hissed, and strained against the chains again.
    ‘Very well,’ I said, and closed my eyes for a few seconds. I was really very tired.
    I moved away from the altar to where the shadows hid iron shelves worked into the chamber’s walls. My hand found the stone jar I was looking for, and my

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