Chapter Six, con't

The problem ended up being solved for her.

Amber was coming up on the meta-Portal faster than she anticipated. When next the ‘real’ world flickered on, she’d decided to take a leap sideways, beyond one of the tunnel walls, To that end, she was walking as close to the right wall as she comfortably could.

She never had the opportunity to execute her plan. The next flicker of machinery revealed that the cat-walk in that world was gone.

In less than the time it took for one of the glimpses to end, she had fallen right through the spot where a stone floor had been.

Amber landed with a grunt, on a surface that felt a lot softer than her fears, a lot sooner than she feared she would land. It was dirt—or something like it. A silvery-grey colour it was, and very soft to her touch.

The dead-coloured light that she remembered from the stairway down from Sarkomand was back, only stronger. There were figures moving and flickering all around her.

She could hear their voices, too.

The air was full.

Not full enough to block the black circle of the Portal, though.

It seemed miles away now and was too big to take in at a glance. All the ghosts were flowing toward it, their chatter retreating with them.

Something about it chilled her. Amber realized she was sweating and panting, her heart hammering. ‘Not now,’ she chided herself. Another panic attack would undo her.

Only blackness ahead. Back at the Portal Web, her elven guide had told her the ‘Nightgaunts’ could go wherever there was darkness.

A wind was rising, its call drowning out the whispered speech of the ghosts still flowing past her. It wasn’t enough to drown the sound of flapping. That sound was getting closer, now.

Amber knew what it was: the beating of leathern wings. Nightgaunts could fly, apparently. What chance did she have to outrun them?

Behind her was the vastness of the machines that made the Portals possible. Coming at her were flying things, black as night. They looked to be human-shaped, with bat wings. Other than the beating of those appendages, they made not a sound.

Frantically, Amber looked back toward the horror of the meta-Portal, looking for escape or defense.

There was none.

Resigned to her fate, and cursing the one who led her to it, Amber stood, turned to face the black void, and held her arms out to her doom.

Nightgaunts, she soon learned, made no noise because they had no mouths. Neither had they noses, ears, or eyes. What purpose their heads served, she had trouble imagining.

Two of the creatures lifted her by her arms without slowing and headed for the blackness of the meta-Portal.

They were wickedly strong and seemed to want her to be still because every time she moved, they tickled her. Under the circumstances, it was disconcerting to have to fight the urge to giggle.

The meta-Portal was shaped as all Portals were, a funnel or vortex, though the former was of stone rather than light. The wind was howling now, coming from behind to push her captors forward.

Amber’s sense of herself began to leave her. She was gripped firmly by the arms, feet, and tails of two Nightgaunts and was being pulled and stretched out into the dark whirlwind of the mold of all Portals. She felt a tearing, rising in agony.

Without warning, the faceless creatures let her go.

Her mind finally broke—Amber screamed.

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Gideon Jagged
Innsmouth, March 12020 h.e.
Omnes deos sunt daemoniorum.
Copyright © 12020 H.E. Gideon Jagged & Alchemy of the Word
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