Tales From the Marsh: Morgue City Shuffle
rating: +23+x

I take a hearty drag from my smoke, and look out from atop the precipice, out at the expanse below me. The Library unfurls forever, in all directions, like a scroll rolling across the ground. Hills and valleys of wood and paper. Clouds, once you go high enough. Right now, I’m about that high. High enough that it almost looks like I could reach up and put a hand on that sky that is not a sky.

You should finish your indulgence quickly, my master. Before the attendants arrive.

I huff a last cloud in acknowledgement, and put the finished smoke in my butt can. Out in the real world you can flick your butts anywhere you like. Within reason. In here, that has a chance of causing a bonfire the size of Luxembourg. And worse, attention from the Dousers. They’re the wettest blankets in the multiverse. Literally. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were already on their way - keyed in on the elemental essence of my Bic when I lit up.

I’ll be gone before they can serve their citation.

I step a ways back from the cliff’s edge and rifle through my backpack, bringing out the things I’ll need to get this gate open.

Black magic time.

Item one. Skull, bleached. Human. Because what else would it be. For some reason, black magic is, more than any other kind of magic, hilariously old-fashioned. It’s almost a parody of itself. All the other ones have mostly adapted to the mentality of the modern mage, but not the dark arts, no sir. If you’re not wearing black eyeliner and gutting a lamb while Love and Rockets plays in the background, it’s just not enough. The pageantry of this stuff, I swear. It’s so performative. It’s just for thanotic bulk, any skull would have worked, but I happened to have this one on hand. You’d be surprised how many bones you can find in the Library’s garbage heaps, if you know how to break into them without the Dross Haulers spotting you. I set the skull on the floor. He smiles at me. Right back at ya, Skinny.

Item two. Candelabra, all silver. Or mostly silver, at least. Lightly cursed. From the pattern coming off it, I think it’s a delayed misfortune one. You touch it and six months later your aunt gets in a nasty car wreck or something. Great for a funny prank I guess, but I’m so warded against jinxes that you’d need to hit me with an entire department store’s worth of ladders and mirrors to twist my ankle. It’s just here for illumination. Lighting the way forward. In a metaphysical sense, thankfully - I’d look like a moron carrying a shiny candle rack everywhere.

Three, jar of live fireflies. These were irritating to get - I had to go back to Earth. Thankfully it was already summertime when I arrived. These are also for illumination - bioluminescence is life attempting to borrow the glory of the stars. Good for wayfinding and sight spells. Both of which I need right now. That and the inescapable fact that dark magic loves life force, and these will grease the wheels well. Sorry, little bugs. Better luck next time.

Four, a hunk of dried coral, for structure and rooting. Has a pleasant pink color. Smells like salt. Hard, pure, and left behind by something that once lived.

Five - and this is the big one - a splinter from the claw of a specific demon. Has to be the right kind of demon, too, one known for outstanding rapaciousness and violence. Fortunately for me, I hunted one such individual some time ago - a nasty, nasty character by the name of OKOLAK. His most common epithet was the Penetrator. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination, dear reader. Even other demons thought OKOLAK was an unpleasant pig of a creature. I ate his heart with fava beans and a nice chianti.1

We are not displeased at the destruction of OKOLAK. He was very smelly. And had no table manners.

Turns out, no one likes a frat boy. Not even demons.

I set all of these down on a flat part of the floor, and pull out my exsanguination kit. That is, my trusty old KA-BAR combat knife, glass jar, horsehair paintbrush, and a small canvas drawstring bag of shriveled red blood beans.

On the ground before the edge of the wooden outcrop, I lay the components in the form of a square.

Bottom right, the skull. The anchoring point. The hairless ape trespasses upon the cosmos once more.

Bottom left, the coral. The backbone. Grow over all. Calcify. Root. Implacable even against the sea.

Upper right, the cursed candelabra. The eye. Cold metal, ignorant of pain and influence. See into the dark. Herald my arrival.

Upper left, the fireflies. Soma. The body. Unknowing sacrifices. Their lights extinguished, so they may serve me in another world.

In the center, the hearth of the house, the fragment of OKOLAK. The heart. The mission statement. The power to pierce walls, shatter barriers. Smash through and clear the way for me, by my command.

Now for the fun part.

I hold the long, grinning knife against the sweet flesh of my left arm. The metal touches the dozens of long, ropy scars already there, greeting them like old friends. Time to add another member to the chorus.

I slide the knife down the skin. Not too fast, not too slow. Not too long, not too short. Need only just enough. The knife is so sharp that at first, I can barely feel anything at all. Then the pain comes. A molten line down my forearm, shrieking. It’d be horrible, unthinkable, impossible - if I hadn’t already done this dozens and dozens of times.

This is the reason most people don’t get into black magic anymore. The dark arts are powerful, there’s no denying. And perilously easy, a lot of the time. It’s the Costco of magic. You get a whole lot of bang for your buck. Buy two hexes, get one free.

But at the higher levels, the price starts to steepen. You can only get so far before your free trial runs out. You want more, you want to walk through the big velvet door and into the VIP section, you’re gonna have to pay. And the multiverse only has one true currency.

A rivulet of Marsh’s finest runs down my outstretched arm and drips from the end of my pinkie. It collects in the glass jar I set out. Fuck this hurts. Every throb of my heart brings a new burst of pain. I can see the flow increase in pressure a little with the rhythm. And there’s no rushing it either, no cheap tricks you can pull. I know what you’re thinking and you’re not as clever as you think you are - the first damn thing blood mages thought was, Man this shit sucks, let’s use some anaesthetic. Or just teleport the blood out of us already, make it quick. But it doesn’t work like that. Whatever forces are in charge of this kind of thing, they like the pain, and they like the time it takes. Without the agonies, minor or major, there’s no magic. The pain is what you’re actually collecting, here - the blood is just a liquid reminder that it was there. A record in red.

The darkness starts to come in at the corners of my vision. Woozy. Thoughts have to come through water. Muffled. Distorted. The pain in my arm seems far away, like it’s being described to me. I take out one of the beans and eat it before I wind up in next week’s funny papers.

The Dark Legislature is very insistent on the blood tithe that most intermediate to advanced black magic requires to function, but just like any other bureaucracy, there are loopholes. The system doesn’t care what happens after the payment, as long as they get it. This is why blood beans are the dark wizard’s best friend. Maybe one of the most convenient things the community ever discovered. Expensive, and rare, but you need them in order to do any heavyweight magic without ending up bedridden. The moment I swallow, I can feel the bean do its work. The flesh of my arm knits itself back together2, my vision starts to clear, and my legs feel more able to hold my weight up.

I shake the willies out, and get to painting. I use the brush and smear my blood into the shape of a square with a cross in the middle, intersecting OKOLAK’s fingernail in the middle. The fucking thing glows an evil red light, just a bit, when the bloody paintbrush passes over it. Even in death, that fucker is still thirsty.

And lastly, the incantation.

A lot of people think that specific rites, spells, rituals and et cetera all require very specific magic words to work, but this is one of the areas where black magic actually wins out. Other forms of magic work a lot like math, and the words are part of the equation. But black magic is way stupider - it’s the high school bully of the transmundane. All it respects is power and force of will. If you want something, you take it. If you have something to say, you say it. It’s all swagger. No numbers, no graphs, no complicated formulae - all you need is confidence, a mild superiority complex, and a flair for the dramatic.

“I am Morgan James Marsh. I stand upon a threshold of my own design. Look upon me and know my deeds. Within them, my names are contained. I am Gore-Crow, who peels the bones of the slain. I am the Enemy of Thrones, the Silent Regicide, who smashes the crowns of kings, who bows the heads of princes. I am Shadow-Spinner, Chainmaker, Blanket-Ripper3, the Pale Vulture. I am HEART-EATER, who has devoured EBORIATH, AKHMODT, SHIRIOK, BAZPHODAL, OKOLAK, and manyscore others. Their hatreds are mine for-ever. By my power, and the multitude powers over whom I am master, I command this gate open.

I know, I know. This LARP-y mom’s basement Wal-Mart Satanist shit is hard to take seriously, but the dark powers absolutely eat it up. This whole system is essentially predicated on bragging so hard that your ego pokes holes in the fabric of reality, and not to toot my own horn or anything, but I’ve been around the block a couple times.

A horrible screeching rent in the air appears before me, at the very edge of the cliff. For a moment, there’s a deeply unpleasant light - the glow of the In-Between. But it fades, and shows me a little window-peek of a shattered vista, moldering below a bruised and dusty sky.

All the ritual components disappear, accepted by the Dark Law. Only the blood remains.

I could never hate you, my master. I exist only to serve. Shiriok says this in a way that makes it absolutely clear that if she still had a body, she would use that body to tear mine to many bloody ribbons in the space of a hummingbird’s wingbeat.

Those of you in the know might be wondering why I’m not just using a Way. They’re free and they go almost anywhere - the conceptual endpoint of “public transit system”. They’re the reason I’m in the Library at all. And they’re great! But they go almost anywhere. One place they don’t go is… there. Hence the toll road.

I grab my backpack and step through the portal.

There’s that unpleasant feeling, like your whole body is being rubbed by old CRT TV screens. My molecules go this way and that for a moment. There’s a brief instant.

Then there is a very, very long time.

Before me, everything is. It stays that way just long enough to make me think that if I could stay here for just a fragment of an instant longer, if my mind could be let off its stupid biochemical chains, I would become complete.

But then it’s gone. I leave the everything behind.

Then I’m standing in a crumbling, blasted-out wasteland too dead to be called hellish, and too ancient to be frightening.

Morgue City.

This place is old. So old that Ways don’t go to it. So old that in order to figure out how to get to it, I had to beg questions and favors from entities who were there when time was an innovative and trendy new idea. I was only put on the trail in the first place because of a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy I ate who knew a guy that I didn’t know or want to know but had to meet anyway.

I’ve been here before, but only once. To satisfy my own curiosity.

I take a breath. There’s air here, but it’s… worn. It’s hard to describe, it’s like all the particles here are very thoroughly used and are probably long overdue for their freshening up in a stellar core. There’s a fuzziness over everything, like no matter how close you get to any one stone or brick, it always looks like it’s coming to you through an old photograph.

There isn’t any way to convey to you, truly, what being in Morgue City is like. But I’ll try and paint you a picture.

Think of a ruin. Any ruin, from any time period. Now combine that ruin with another one, from a different time period. Then another. Keep doing it until the destruction and abandonment extends from horizon to horizon. Broken stone and brick and archway and tower and wall, all roiling and mixing in with one another. Some buildings are still standing - and when they do, when you see them, you understand why. Some of these structures are the size of mountains. I don’t know who could have built them, and I don’t know what they’re for. One day I’ll go to those horizons and see for myself.

There isn’t a lot of rhyme to any of it. The land itself declines congruity - there are city-sized platforms of earth just hanging in the air, agnostic toward gravity. Looking up, you can see that the sky is full of them. All oriented in different directions. There are some structures that just ignore any land entirely, hanging up there like unknowable alien spacecraft.

I suppose you could say there is a sky. I suppose “sky” would technically describe what that is. There are stars, but no sun. There is light, but it comes from strange aurorae, spilled oil rainbows and spectacular nebulae that I couldn’t begin to guess the truth of. Everything around me looks like a summer’s dusk - long, hard-edged shadows, each one a black sword, with its own story and indescribable temporal weight. I’m a dark wizard. I know shadows. And these are the Dom Perignon, the Rolex, the Rolls Royce of shadows - rich, substantial, and impossibly powerful.

These may be the first shadows ever cast.

I start walking. Forward, because I don’t think direction and distance mean as much here as they do in other worlds. I pass under an archway several hundred meters tall and into a splintered courtyard, paved by gemstones cut into bricks the size of cinder blocks. Around me are impossible towers, battlements, crenellated walls, all intersecting one another in ways that no one expected to obey the mandate of physics could arrange. I keep walking. It keeps changing. It isn’t the way it was the last time I was here, and I didn’t expect it to be.

It’s not actually called Morgue City, by the way. That’s just what I call it. It has as many names as the number of people who are aware of it. The Palace of Long Night. Proudsorrow. The House of Sleep. Evercrypt. The Dawnless Fortress.

The Gaol of Dreams.

You get the idea. Some have a more positive view than others.

I went with Morgue City because parts of it kind of look like they were made to be inhabited. When, I couldn’t say. It’s just a hunch. And Morgue because… well, there are dead things here. I’m a necromancer, trust me.

Frankly, I don’t think you would need to be a necromancer to know this is some kind of monument world. A great mausoleum, maybe the greatest. The last time I was here I didn’t do an incredible amount of exploring, so I haven’t seen any actual bodies yet. And I don’t know if I want to.

I can feel their dreams.

I don’t know how you couldn’t - the instant you show up here, they wash against your mind. Gently, but insistently. A psychic tide. If you stay still for long enough, you start to get… images. Sensations. It becomes possible to pick out individual directions the signals are coming from. I can feel them even though my mind is layered with literally thousands and thousands of anti-telepathy wards, like the scales of a dragon. And they still get in. I don’t think I’ll ever follow them.

There’s only one kind of thing that continues to dream after it has died. There is only one kind of thing that could be interred in these titanic soaring sepulchres. And it’s not the kind of thing you commune with if you would like to remain as you are now.

It’s possible that Morgue City isn’t mostly forgotten. Maybe people do come here sometimes.

And maybe they don’t leave.

I’m not worried about that though, because I brought a gun. And some extremely cursed personal defense objects. And a sense of self-determination and arrogance that borders on the galactic. I’ll be fine.

You are always fine, my master. So fine… like the softest sands…

I reach the top of a winding cobblestone stairway that terminates at a platform overlooking a pretty wide area of the City. I look out, to see if I can see the thing I saw the last time I was here.

All the mythology and research about this place makes it pretty clear that nothing lives here. Nothing is supposed to be able to. Life has no claim here. This is Death’s living room and no one else is welcome. Morgue City has no inhabitants other than those that have earned the right. I definitely don’t belong here. I’m trespassing. There are no living here and there are no undead here. Or there shouldn’t be.

So why do I feel movement?

In my own head, I ask Shiriok, “Do you feel it too?”

Yes, master. There is a scuttling.

“Something… verminous.”

I agree. Scratching. Digging. Gnawing. A parasite burrows. Giving nightmare to the Great Sleep.

“I could be down for playing extradimensional exterminator for a bit. Could make a good column.”

A fitting amusement for one of your station, sire.

One of these days I’m going to get a demonic secretary with a little less attitude.

Where… where are you. I close my eyes.

The crashing waves of spirit energy break over my mind. I am battered by an ocean of notions, wave after wave. Dreams as gigantic and substantial as any mountain or sea, enormous in their scope, infinite in depth. I can see down into them, where there are lights and shadows. I see, down in the lambent dark below me, the minds of things that I will never come to understand. Things that can still swallow me, accidentally, with no consciousness or awareness, too dead to know but too powerful to be still.

I can’t stay here long, or I will sink, and never see the surface again.

There. Ripples. Changes in pressure, moving through the great psychic sea. Further up than I am, near the surface. And nowhere close to those great things that lie at the bottom. From here, I can mark them - cast a long harpoon into their essence and hold the rope in my hand.

I open my eyes, and look where I imagine southwest would be if direction meant anything here. The invisible rope in my hand tugs and jitters in time with the thing’s thoughts and movements. I can’t tell if it knows I’ve marked it - have to move quick, before it scampers off to who-knows-where.

Peek over the edge of the platform. Long way down, into yawning reaches of unfathomably ancient ruin.

I take a few steps back. Best to get a running start with this kind of thing, so you don’t bonk your head if you tumble or there was an outcrop that you didn’t notice.

Step. Step. Step step step stepstepstepstep

Jump.

And I’m plummeting into empty space. The ground gets confused for a moment, notices that I’ve escaped, and rushes upward to catch me.

Tumbling through the air toward broken earth like a meteor in a trenchcoat, I take out my knife and slash a quick cut across my arm. Blood splatters everywhere in the rising wind. The pain just makes the sensation of falling more real.

I evoke BAZPHODAL, the Gale of Fangs, Shadow Hurricane! Your wings are mine!

Baz doesn’t bother fighting me this time. Probably because this is a hunt, and he was always an uncomplicated predator at heart. Helping me kill is the only excitement he gets anymore. I almost feel sorry for him.

My coat turns into a huge pair of feathery wings, drenched in griseous shadow and smoke. They catch the air with a spine-shuddering SNAP and I’m upright, regaining some of my lost altitude. Flying isn’t exactly a default state for humans, but I’ve borrowed Baz’s most prized attribute enough times that I’ve basically gotten the hang of it. It’s kind of like paragliding, but with your brain.

I orient myself to the direction the psychic tie is tugging me. It’s a huge building, like a monolithic cathedral that even the wealthiest and most insane cults on Earth couldn’t accomplish if you gave them a thousand years. Fortunately for me, there’s a huge stadium-sized hole in the roof, so I won’t have to figure out a way in.

Baz’s wings carry me up and up, each beat whipping me twenty feet higher. It’s dizzying, how fast I’m going. I was never much of a flier, honestly. I know a lot of demonbinders that sprint right toward the first noxitoma or camazotz they can smell, kill it, tear its wings off, and make them into a cool cape or duster or whatever. And they never take the damn thing off because it makes them look like a cool sorcerer and flying is rad. And then they try it out a few too many times without properly binding the demon because they’re addicted to the sensation of flight. The demon chooses the exact wrong moment to disobey, and… ker-splat. Dead wizard. You’d be surprised how often, honestly. This is why training is important. Read your manuals and practice your strictures, all you little magelets out there.

My approach to the huge church nears its terminus, and I smear my brain out, feeling for anything that might be around. There’s definitely something, skittering there at the ground floor. My brain’s tongue can taste ash, dust, rot, blood, glee. Definitely undead. There should not be undead here, of all places. Don’t ask me how or why I know that. I’m a necromancer. You get a feel for this kind of thing and you learn to just go with the arcane flow.

I swoop up, over the lip of the breach in the roof. Circle a time or two around the edge, looking down into the place to make sure if there’s a place to land. It’s clear - for all its height, it looks like the thing is mostly one huge room. Nuts. I wonder what’s inside.

The wings of darkness spiral around me as I spin upward, hang for just a moment to bask in the eldritch radiance of this timeless, ineffable void, then backflip and plunge into the shadowy belly of the cathedral. Don’t get jealous, now - I’ve had a long time to practice being this rad.

They’re down there, right below me. I can feel them. I wonder what they’re up to.

I reach paint-peeling speeds as I dive. Rafters, struts, broken walls and hanging ropes whip past me in an exhilarating peregrine rush. Maybe I should fly more often. Every time I do it I'm reminded how awesome it is. It's a good thing birds can't talk, otherwise we'd never hear the end of how cool they think they are.

I pull up at the last second, twenty feet above the old mirror-polished tiles of the ground floor. Baz’s wings SNAP again very dramatically, and I land on my feet. I do not do the superhero landing, because that’s incredibly cliche and not as practical as Captain America makes it look. The wings of the Void Raptor unfurl impressively behind me, then I let the magic go. They turn back into my regular ol’ coat and the cut on my arm seals over. I shake the blood off with one hand, light a smoke with another,4 and see what there is to see.

There’s not much, as it turns out. I think this place is a huge mausoleum. The walls are lined with shelves and shelves of stone coffins that probably haven’t been moved in eons. They soar up and up over my head, out into the dusty darkness from who knows when. The floor is honestly a really attractive polished marble with a lot of intricate and pretty monochrome patterns in it. Probably took whoever did it half a millennium just to get the arrangement right. It’s dark. There aren’t many windows and the light outside can only be called such on a technicality. I wave a hand and say “Lantern” in Akhmodian. The beast himself opens a portal over my shoulder and pokes a little goldstone filigree cage with a glowing orb at the center through the gateway. His finger retreats back through the shadowy circle and the lantern stays hovering near me.

Now that I have a little light, I can see why I was able to feel the disturbance from so far away.

This place is fucking infested with ghouls.

They’re goddamn everywhere, must be hundreds of them. Crawling over the ground, reaching into sacred canopic jars to shove the slippery wet contents into their disgusting maws, working in teams to shove the great heavy caskets out of their recesses and smashing them open to get at the dead kings and queens inside. Most of them are just bones at this point, there’s barely anything left to eat! Fucking corpse eaters.

You know ghouls, right? They’re not that rare, even on Earth. Basically the termites of the undead community. Dry, wiry zombie men with cartoony mouths full of razor sharp teeth. Heavy, long, muscular arms with powerful digging claws, for unearthing fresh bodies. No eyes - just smoothed over papery skin where they used to be. They get around just fine on smell, hearing, and very mild spirit sense.

Ghouls are normal. Blessedly, hilariously normal. They crop up on all kinds of worlds and they rise up out of all kinds of species. Wherever there’s death and hunger, there’s ghouls.

But they should not be here. Not in Morgue City. Not on my watch, at least. I don’t know why I feel the need to take this responsibility on myself, but the idea of ghouls being here just seems… wrong. They’ve got to go. Either by choice or by the Dark Sorcerer Knuckle Sandwich Express, their pick.

They can hear and they’re not quite as stupid as their dry dusty brains would lead to you believe, so they all heard me when I landed. And they’re all facing me, frozen in anticipation. There’s a wet little splat as a length of preserved intestine slips out of a clawed hand mid-mouthful.

I exhale a cloud of good ol’ Virginia smooth.

“Leave. Or I will be your second death.”

Not very witty, but these things aren’t very smart, and it’s generally best to state your intentions plainly when dealing with the devils of the transmundane.

A big one, maybe about seven feet tall and closer to me than the rest, sniffs once through the aperture where its nose used to be. Evidently I’m not exactly a rose garden, as he follows up with a deeply irritated shrieking roar, which the rest of the crowd starts to pick up and carry with him.

Well alright then. Bit low on eloquence, but them’s fightin’ words if I’ve ever heard them.

I take another drag and wave my free hand vaguely, along with a word in a language that no one but me speaks anymore.

A huge boiling oval of greasy shadows appears somewhere way above and to the right of my right shoulder. An enormous hand, made of charcoal black stone and engraved with spiraling patterns in scintillating gold, emerges from the portal. It keeps on coming. It’s attached to an even enormous-er arm carved with rippling, perfect musculature. It’s so big that it could grab my entire body like a GI Joe. Completely silent, but it’s so gigantic that you can feel the change in the air pressure as it moves.

The hand makes a fist and falls on the noisy ghoul like a descending obsidian moon.

BOOM.

The arm withdraws smartly into the portal, which quietly disappears.

Dr. Teeth now resembles something you might find stuck to a windshield after a pleasant summertime drive through the countryside.

The rest of the ghouls are quiet, and still.

“Anyone else trying to fuck around, or can we skip to the end, here? I’m a busy guy.”

The silence in the ancient crypt is deafening, even more so than the impact of AKHMODT’s fist against the floor tiles. I hate to leave a crater in the beautiful thing like that, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made when you’re trying to make yourself understood.

I think they’re gridlocked. Waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’ll help.

I take in a big lungful of smoke, then borrow a wisp of BAZPHODAL’s wind to change the structure of the air around me.

SCRAM!

My voice is like a thunderclap, loud enough to crack some of the nearby bas reliefs and pop eardrums.

The ghouls drop everything and scramble toward the huge cathedral double doors, without even a glance backward. There’s hundreds of the fucking things, all panicking and stampeding over one another, so it takes a minute. I take out my inferno lash and whip a couple of their behinds on the way out, just to make sure they get the message.

I follow them out, though. I need to know where they came from.

Out the great doors and into an impressive colonnade causeway, it doesn’t take me long to get to the bottom of the mystery.

To my left, down what could charitably be called “the street”, there’s a portal. Kind of like the one I used to get here, but… better? Cleaner. More elegant, not torn and ragged at the edges. Like it was made with a box cutter and measurement square instead of the claws of some rabid beast. There’s an odd purple light coming from the other side, but I can’t make out anything concrete.

A presence, too. A mind.

The stampede of terrified ghouls runs into the portal, and it disappears the instant the last of them are over the threshold. Not a trace of it left. Perfectly clean, no residue at all, nothing for me to trace. Professional work, lots of power behind it to make a cut that clean.

Very curious.

“Yeah. Seem familiar to you?”

Shiriok does the disembodied spirit entity version of shaking her head. No. The methodology is standard, but intricate. Difficult. I cannot place the signature of the soul, either. Mysterious.

I smoke contemplatively, in the middle of a street eons old. The rainbow of strange stars, lights, and clouds wheels eternally above me, sustaining the beautiful shadows.

“You’re telling me. Why send ghouls here? What’s the point? Destruction? Fucking things up for the fun of it? Ghouls aren’t smart enough to do anything more complicated than that.”

A message, perhaps. A statement of some kind.

“Clarify.”

That portal was made by no amateur. This was no accident. This place was dead before life had meaning. It has seen the passing of cosmos after cosmos. Forgotten again and again by more realities than your pathetic human mind could fathom. Few know of it. Fewer can access it. To shit on its doorstep is to make a declaration. A vulgar one, perhaps, but not spurious. And not to be ignored.

“Hm. Spray painting the front of the courthouse to prove how cool and brave you are. I wonder who they’re trying to impress.”

No one small.

I nod, thinking. I put my smoke out and turn around, back the way I came.

It could be that Morgue City doesn’t need a watchdog. It’s been here for… forever, I guess. It’s probably been through worse.

But it would probably make a pretty awesome article.

And, to tell the truth, this kind of punk-ass move just makes me mad.

I look around me, to the pure, beautiful shadows, cast by stones and architecture and designs older and more profound than I could ever know. And I make them a promise.

I’ll be back.

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