Chapter 1: The Dark Path.
A young boy crept slowly and silently down a dark hallway. He looked to be about eight or nine years old. He had straight jet black hair down to his shoulders, shimmering pale blue eyes, and a powdery pale complexion. He was clothed in a deep purple night gown of very fine material and craftsmanship, contrasted by his bare and dirty legs and feet. Every step was thoughtful, careful, a step that had been taken dozens of times before. The route had long been mastered, as mastered as it was secret.
The dark halls the boy stealthily trespassed down were that of his family's manor, a large, old, looming abode nestled deeply in a thick foreboding forest. The walls were solid stone, stretching up into a curved, classical-like ceiling. The house was marked throughout by paintings and tapestries, running the gamut from elegant landscapes and portraits to out right abominable depictions of violence. A dark red woolen carpet was spread throughout, covering the cold hard stone of the floor.
Ahead of the boy, down the long and somewhat intimidating hallway, was his destination. A grand iron door marked in outlandish frightening symbols. Golden, almost inflamed, light peered through several small gaps in the frame. The crafty youth continued his silent march. As he approached he began to hear the voices of the people on the other side.
He reached the door at a crouch and pressed his eye up to one of the larger gaps on its side. He was not able to make out much at first, though after a bit of scanning back and forth he could see a group of hooded men spread out across the room. After a moment he could see that they were gathered in a large half circle, and that standing among them, in the center, was a single hood-less man. A severe, domineering, ardent looking man. His eyes a similar color to the boy's, but darker, more consuming, intensely unnerving. He seemed to be leading the ritual, or whatever it was going on. He also happened to be the master of the house, and the boy's father.
The boy pulled back from the door, breath strained, heart pounding. His father was a frightening, strict man, who would not approve of such secret activities. The boy prayed that he hadn't been seen. With a deep breath he peered back into the ghastly chamber.
He could now see that in the center of the circle was a woman, completely nude, heavily with child, and covered in mystifying peculiar tattoos. She struggled and cried out, writhing around on the ground, but she was not bound. She was there as willingly as any of the others present, including the hidden little boy. Her convulsions were not the result of fear or panic. They were but the byproduct of the coming birth. Her baby was well on its way.
The men all began to chant, but it was not in the boy's native tongue, nor any of the several subsequent languages he had acquired in his short life. It was a language that he had never heard before, that very few humans ever had. A guttural, inhuman language, seemingly ill-suited to human phonetics and vocal biology. It was the boy's father that started the chant, and it was promptly repeated by the others, his followers.
"Iä Shub-Niggurath!" "Y'ai'ng'ngah Yog-Sothoth H'ee-L'geb F'ai Throdog Uaaah."
Pressed up against the wall the young boy was aghast with feuding senses of wonder and terror. While this was far from the beginning of his espionage on his father, from the idea that his father was up to things those outside his home would not condone, he had never witnessed anything like this. The chanting continued, the same strange words repeated over and over, for what came to seem like hours to the boy. Even to an excited youth the repetition proved daunting and eventually boring, it did not take terribly long for him to fall back against the wall, and into a deep sleep. The chanting continued.
Some time later, to the sounds of faint thunder, muffled moans, and an abnormal amount of creaks from the old house itself, the boy's eyes slowly blinked open. He was momentarily lost, unaware of where he was or what he had been doing, in far more of a daze than the effects of sleep alone would produce. After a short time the thunder struck much louder outside the house, and the boy's confusion started to fade. He was soon up on his feet, stumbling backward, still slowed a bit by the strange drowsiness. He could tell that his mind was more clouded than it should have been, even given the circumstances.
Something else caught his attention after a moment. The masonry all around him, the carpet, the door, everything was moist, covered in a thin layer of a strange black grime. Gunky algae-like growth splotched up in several places. Small puddles of murky sea like water pooled at various places across the floor. The boy choked and grabbed his nose defensively as a horrible acrid odor gagged him. It should have been immediately noticeable upon waking, but it hadn't been. It was the smell of a dead tide, it was unmistakable, but the only bodies of water for dozens of miles were small rivers and creeks. The entire situation had also become permeated with an immense sensation of primordial dread.
Suddenly there was what sounded like an immense bolt of lightning striking, the biggest loudest lightning strike imaginable, right in in the next room. It shook the foundations of the house so violently that it felt like the whole thing almost came crashing down into rubble. The boy was instantly blasted back to his full senses, heart striking against his rib cage in what felt like an escape attempt, eyes already bursting with tears.
The terrifying crash was immediately followed by screams from the other side of the door, voices begging, crying out in fear, or pain, likely both. Though one voice remained constant, steadfast in the face of terrible peril, that of the boy's father. He continued chanting without interruption, only one or two others struggling to still follow along with him.
There was another loud but much more muffled booming from within the room, the boy felt it as much as he heard it, vibrating out through the house, and within himself. The roaring echo-like chanting now reverberated through the boy's body as well, pulsing down his spine and through his limbs.
The concert of screams continued, progressing in intensity and participation, echoing through the door more primal and desperate by the second. And then... a horrible shriek. Unlike anything the boy had ever heard in his life. So awful, so inhuman, and terrifying, so indescribable that human words fail it utterly.
It was more than enough to send the boy flying from the door, moving down the hall at a dead sprint, not stopping until he crashed into the banister at the end and almost flew over it and plummeted two stories to the hard marble floor of the entry hall below. The screams from within the other room continued frantically, increasing in volume and desperation. Only the boy's father continued the ritual now, his voice booming loud enough to compensate for the loss of his compatriots.
From his new perspective the boy could see that it was raining heavily outside. Lightning strikes flashed in the distance every few seconds, occasionally hitting quite close to the house. The thunder rattled the already diminished foundation, as whatever was currently happening in the ritual taking place in the other room continued to do so as well.
The boy hyperventilated so hard he felt he was moments away from losing consciousness. He felt like he was barely able to pull oxygen from the air at all. His chest and shoulders lifted and fell dramatically. His eyes were wider than they've ever been, and fixed on the door with the familiar, but now somehow dreadful, golden light still escaping from the gaps. Another horrid shriek from the inhuman wastelands of the universe shook the foundation of the house and every soul within it stronger still than any that had preceded it. And the boy was again in flight, down the stairs with an almost supernatural swiftness, stopping at the front door.
Thunder continued to rumble the house, which was taking on a gradually more indecipherable other worldly quality. The walls and floor of the first level also contained the same wet, acrid quality as the second. Whatever heinous, sacrilegious activity was going on in the auditorium had somehow infected the entire house. The boy knew, on a primal level that he could not explain, that he didn't even truly realize himself, that he was very short on time. It wouldn't be long before catastrophe.
He burst through the door like an explosion, sending the old wooden aperture into the stone wall with a loud crack, flying out the large main entryway of the manor, dashing through the pouring rain, into the massive, ancient forest. There was a large area cleared out making a roughly forty yard perimeter around the house. Trees stretched out beyond that in all directions. The boy continued as fast as he could across the cleared land, into the treeline border. He ducked behind a very large stone, pulling himself down, putting the bolder between himself and the house. He lowered himself behind it, peeking over at the house.
Somehow, even after putting so much distance between them, he could still hear his father's chanting. Even more shocking was how the chanting here seemed to be equal in volume to when he had been hidden on just the other side of the door. But now it was more felt than heard, like the booming from before.
The chanting ceased very suddenly. It was replaced by an absolute silence, so complete that it almost seemed to slow time. It was quickly interrupted by another lightning-like crash, louder than all the others, like an explosion. Finally broken, the boy's father began to scream out for his life, in abject horror. He was answered by a scream so loud and monstrous it could only be described as a whaling, overpowering, roar, almost machine like in its garbled, static, pounding. All the forest shook as if the world were falling apart, trees cracking and falling over, cracks opening and sucking up patches of forest into blind, unknown, hells. The boy held onto the rock to stay on his feet.
Suddenly, with a loud crunch the house itself pulsed inward as if deflating, then almost immediately exploded outward into a million pieces, splintered wood, crumbled stone,and the occasional fleshy bit of human raining down all around. The boy took off into the forest, his mind not even attempting to comprehend what he had seen, his survival instincts taking complete control. A third other worldly moan boomed out from behind him.
In the final moments before what was once his lifelong home fell out of sight he managed to turn his head back to look. The view was not clear, but something now sat where his house had been, something roughly its equal in size, the remaining rubble sat on top of it. As it swayed, writhed around back and forth, the rubble rolled off and shifted.
The boy ran as fast as he could, as hard as his young body could withstand, deeper into the woods. The horrid sounds continued behind him, seeming to refuse to dissipate as they should with distance. Though truly it did not matter how fast or how far he ran. His life had already been forever changed, placed onto a unique and tragic path that would echo out into millennia.
The boy's name was Mathias Cronqvist.