The fifth installment of Wyrdtails
I am unashamed to admit that I am a coward at heart. I’ve never been one for confrontations of any sort, nor have I ever been particularly emboldened to take a stand for, well, pretty much anything, truth be told. And in the end, that is what this chronicle is — a true account, as best as I can wrangle, of the events that transpired the night of Tuesday, the 28th of October 2014. And my cowardice, I’m afraid, takes center stage in the telling.
Following Connors across town proved more difficult than I’d imagined. Tailing a vehicle through the narrow streets of any college town is sure to be a challenge, and Miskatonic was doubly so, with students out in force, many garishly attired. One thing students can always be counted for is to wholly and fervently accept any excuse to imbibe spirits and they treat the week of All Hallow’s as sacrosanct. Their hedonism knew no bounds, and their judgement was left aslumber in their dormitories and off-campus housing.
It was all I could do to keep from killing them by the dozens, these drunken catechumen, let alone keep pace with Connors and his unseen companion. His sports car, a black 1966 Lotus Elan, made short work of these streets, weaving effortlessly through the throng and the attenuated byways, while my own vehicle, an Oldsmobile of questionable provenance, clunked and clattered along, threatening life and limb of pedestrian and occupant alike. In that, I guess, there was some modicum of bravery on my part.
Thankfully I was well aware of Connors’ destination and though he arrived long before I, I did, in fact, arrive just the same, though as I rolled to a stop, three car links back from the occult detective’s conveyance, I was made aware that my tardiness was not without recompense.
I stepped from my Olds and stared up at Taliesyn House, sitting atop Cemet’ry Hill in all its faded glory. Once, in the early days of the university, this house attracted the crème de la crème of fringe academia, those wayward, occult-obsessed intelligentsia who entangled themselves in various hermetic, masonic, and other more nefarious sects. Here there were dragons of every imaginable stripe. It was Miskatonic‘s very own Order of the Friars of St. Francis of Wycombe. Hellfire? The place still bore the stench of sulfur and brimstone all these decades later.
Thaddeus and I had lived less than five minutes from this place and we both had been enamored with it. It had been the subject of many an essay and academic paper, in those moments when my scholarly pursuits outweighed more hedonistic ones, and my former roommate had penned numerous fictions with Taliesyn House at their center.
I had never truly believed in magick prior to the night of October 28th. Perhaps you are surprised to hear this considering my vocation as an esoteric scholar and professor of the same? I had witnessed many remarkable things in my years, but true magick? No, I had discounted all such occurrences as drug-enhanced fantasies and prestidigitation at the hands of highly skilled and manipulative charlatans. I found value in the psychologies and philosophies and cultural absurdities attached to the writings of these various movements, and of the personalities that such proclivities attracted to them.
But as I stood there, engulfed by the shadow of fell Taliesyn, amidst the soul-shuddering moans and the pyrotechnics that swelled from within its agèd confines, I knew without a doubt that I was in the presence of something altogether unnatural.
I stood mere yards from an eclectic and chaotic energy that could only be described as true and unbridled magick. Flashes of blue light exploded from the windows of Taliesyn, crackling with kineticism, shriven and unfettered. I was inflamed with its preternatural discharge, my body alive with the resonating pulse of pure, unadulterated and miraculous power. I could scarcely imagine what it would have been like to have stood in the heart of that conflagration.
I found I could not approach the house even as the wild magick subsided and grew dark. I had dropped to my knees, having soiled myself in embarrassing fashion. A malefic figure broke free from Taliesyn’s hold —a shadowy form that stank of something dark and infernal. It passed right by me and I felt my soul wither on the vine. I was paralyzed to act.
I was still on my knees when Connors approached me, looking even more disheveled than when we’d earlier met.
I failed to look him in the eye when he spoke, but I felt the weight of his words and they twisted like daggers where it mattered most.
“This is your doing, old man. And you’re going to bloody help fix it.”
to be continued
either this weekend or
Tuesday, December 23