[Destiny] Chapter 14: Everywhere But Ljubljana

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For people with occult missions, the peak of mourning was well known to last only four days, so, despite the vague what the fuck am I doing aura floating about, Sila still managed to pick up the map and plot the next cabinet ambush, which turned out to be back in Salzburg, only two hours away by train, two and a half by bus.

‘Ljubljana is four and a half,’ said Joanna, leaning forward from the seat behind, the Austrian Demonology book in her right hand.

‘How the-…’

‘Maybe five.’

‘I thought I lost you in the station.’

‘It’s not too late. We could change tickets and be there by mid-afternoon.’

‘We?’

‘Early evening at the latest. Yes, we.’

‘I’m not going back to Ljubljana.’

‘We could be at the castle by six.’

‘No.’

‘It’s not that far.’ She took out the vial then the blade and mimed a slicing action on her arm. ‘Not that far at all.’

‘No.’

‘Just a drop.’

‘I’m going back to Salzburg then on to Czech land. After that…ne vem. I don’t know.’

‘Those places are okay, but Ljubljana is better.’

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[Destiny] Chapter 13: A Close-Knit Pair

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Hoped to god it was cheap plastic

but that was forlorn

as soon as I saw the glint on the edge of the blade

then a second glint

and a third

as the pendulum cut through the air above me, dropping an inch with each swing.

‘The rope?’ I asked

tilting my neck as far left as it would go without snapping

but Kurzsan shushed me

and continued with his recital.

‘…the wound seventeen degrees to the arch of Saturn, count to nine in the old tongue, insert the blade and call out, ‘I know of Oizys, their follies’.’

I tried to catch Kurzsan’s eye

but the only thing looking back was that fucking book

The Hocken Manual

as the pendulum kept slicing down an inch

and down an inch

and down an inch

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[Destiny] Chapter 12: Yellow-Eyed Devil

~~~

Grabbed the remote

flicked off Blake’s 7 and said

‘no more space shit’

and when I moved to grab it back

Amir morphed into purple mist, his legs, his arms, held the remote out on one of his tendrils

of bizarro smoke and

taunted me with what I was missing

Servalan dies in this one

Servalan dies in this one

which he couldn’t possibly know cos he’d never watched it properly

but somehow he did know

and each time I thought I’d outflanked him

he swirled to a different part of the bedroom, brushing an inch away from my dick as he swirled, but never close enough to affect anything

cos he’d got what he wanted and now

it was taunting time

without shame

and all I could do was stand there and

~~~

A giant remote in a bathrobe watched as Sila opened his eyes and looked around Veronika’s room.

Then he blinked and it turned into one of the bed posts.

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[Destiny] Chapter 11: A Jar With No Label

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Waiting in a suspiciously white room

with a gun

the Chinese trickster looked away from the shattering glass as

I burst in

axe ready

but when I chopped at her arm

nothing happened

the axe was blunt

outright plastic.

No choice then but to sit down

brood a bit

reflect on axe origins, chopping technique etc.

‘Do you want a coffee?’ she asked, ambushing my lap.

‘Go away.’

‘What’s on the other side of the window?’

‘Leave.’

She seized the axe and placed the edge against my neck, saying even plastic had its moments, and when I looked down at the floor, the shards of broken glass were not

~~~

The next day ran in a similar vein to the last.

Afternoon rising.

No humans in or outside the castle.

Eerie mist hovering over the nearby mountains.

Food from the microwave.

Squinting at the Hocken Manual.

Squinting at other manuals.

Kurzsan on the brink of a handjob then turning blank, giving no explanation or apology, and wandering off somewhere just fast enough that when Sila followed he was already gone.

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[Destiny] Chapter 10: Kurzsan Is The Warmest Count

~~~

Actually in the fireplace

book in claw

not saying a thing, just reading, and all I could do was sit there in a slumped state, blood leaking out of my neck from its slash wound, waiting to see if it could be bothered to drink me at some point

and the flames

didn’t affect it in any way

not even a slight flinch of discomfort

which was fine, really, as fire wasn’t the key to this, the thing in my jacket pocket was, if I could muster up the energy to lift my hand up and

a blue laser shot into the room

the cave

missing the creature, the Krsnik, by a metre and a half, then expanding, thickening into a bar of light that wasn’t blue anymore, it was

colourless

not yellow

but something to illuminate the décor and show more of

~~~

Sila woke up looking at the floor.

Most of his body was still on the bed, but everything above his chest was hanging off the side, as if he’d already tried and failed to get up and this was the compromise.

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[Destiny] Chapter 9: A Historical Monster

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The room that Count Kurtain [or Kurzsan, as Sila realised when they passed a block of text on the wall referencing the name] led him to did, as advertised, have a lit fire, though it seemed unlikely that the warmth of its flames would reach any of the walls.

The sheer size of the place; if Sila had counted out the time it took from the door to the fireplace, he was sure it would’ve been at least half a minute.

But he’d been distracted, mainly by the deep purple cloak of his host, the bottom part of it caught on the top of his left boot.

Kurzsan neither noticed nor cared as he sat down on the rug by the poker and stared into the flames.

Due to the lack of chairs, Sila did the same.

To some people, this may have been something meaningful, but to Sila it was vacant, the flames being far too alive, flickering erratically, tracing the madcap ley lines of his own mind instead of giving something steady to anchor onto.

A black square.

Uranus from a distance.

Green hospital walls.

The Garden of Earthly Delights.

That’s what he liked to peer into.

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[Destiny] Chapter 8: Count Kurtain

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As with most other hostels, it was better to avoid the 16-bed dorms, or even the 8-bed dorms, as that’s where the collective drunks would be.

2-bed dorms were ideal, but the smallest the Innsbruck hostel had was a 4-bedder so that’s where Sila ended up, on the top bunk with a Korean man below, who at one point, got up and wandered off to have a shower wearing only his underpants.

Somehow, the Chinese stalker had failed to switch to the same room as him, probably cos she booked online, or he’d booked the last bunk in this one, though he knew she was still in the hostel somewhere; he’d seen her lurking in the reception area.

Unless she’d given up and left?

Either way, she wasn’t in this room, which gave him the chance to stretch out on the bed in peace and plan his next move.

Go back to the castle.

Go back to the castle.

Go back to the castle.

Go back to the castle.

It was incessant, the image of the random, wild-looking man slipping through the locked door of the castle, waiting for him on the other side, whispering, ‘come back tonight, come back tonight.’

Was there another cabinet, one without a tape recorder?

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Russian Book Of Satan

The Enduring Horror of The Devil Rides Out | Den of Geek

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Albania, Peru, Tanzania, Ghana, Papua New Guinea, Scotland, every country had a book of Satan but none as elusive as the Russian one.

For centuries, a wealthy few had attempted to pin it down.

Post-internet, the plebs tried too.                

~~~

Got-Fuck-All-Else types would bus in to Tobolsk loaded with Rasputin lore, sure it was somewhere beneath his old church.

Poles rented flats near the original Moscow subway and tried to dig under.

Arcanists scoured spines in 2nd hand bookshops.

Opportunists tailed the Arcanists.

Cynics re-read Crowley.

~~~

When physical locations didn’t work, people turned to conceit.

The book wasn’t an actual book.

Or it was a book within another book.

But this way was dangerous.

Exemplar: an itinerant group of Russian Satanists read Ivan’s 2nd Dream, aimed for the 17th door of Kidič, and opened the 7th by mistake.

Verhnaia Gubakha was the price paid.

~~~

Chik Chun Ming Aleša eschewed all that and focused on WordPress.

Her theory: the book was sentient, it would evolve, strive to be found, but have no physical way to pay for a website designer.

Plugins? Maybe.

If it could stratify.

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[Destiny] Chapter 7: Innsbruck Castle Glum

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Thirteen hours later he was in Austria, the head of the tadpole part, bussing into Innsbruck on a hunch.

A book he’d read said there was a cabinet in the castle there and nearby was a room with a bath dug into the floor and a painting of a wolfman at the entrance, and that was exactly the kind of detail that Professors of Dark Light wrote poems about, or he thought they would, mainly cos of the note he’d been left in Kagoshima, the story of the woman at Uji Bridge, with the bold underlines of

‘she bathed in the Uji river for 21 days, divided her hair into five horns, painted her body red with vermilion, and went on a legendary killing spree.’

He still didn’t know what vermilion was but he understood the weirdness of it and why Professors of Dark Light would be drawn towards the ‘five horn, paint your body red, 21 days’ part.

~~~

The castle was covered in snow when he got there because it was November 28th and the wolfman painting was exactly where the book had promised it would be, so the only thing left to do was find the cabinet and ditch the Chinese murderer, Joanna, who’d been walking fifteen yards behind him ever since he’d boarded the train from Ljubljana station.

It was weird, no matter how hard he tried he couldn’t shake her, not even when the train got into Salzburg and he’d sprinted out of the station and kept going for twenty minutes down side roads and alleys, then looped back and into the same station and onto the platform to wait for the next train to Innsbruck, it was no good cos somehow she’d known his plan and was sitting on a bench on the same platform waiting for the same train, her line being: if he were really staying in Salzburg, he wouldn’t have sprinted out of the station.

It was dubious logic, but it worked then and it worked in Innsbruck station too as, somehow, she knew it was the castle he was aiming for, which meant they’d ended up on the same bus, bought the same ticket and were now looking at the same row of paintings.

‘He looks like you,’ she whispered, pointing at the wolfman portrait nearby.

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[Destiny] Chapter 6: Slovene To Chinese

~~~

The next day Joanna ignored the vial of grey vasic and walked out of the room that looked like a prison cell, that had been designed conceptually as a prison cell, and onto the streets of Ljubljana.

It was eleven in the morning and, even though the Triple Bridge was only a few streets away, it felt like it would take a decade for her conscious self to drag her there, a decade of passing one Slovene face every ten minutes, of the castle trap the night before, of the slight pang of disgust and failure and inability to trap the thing, of other distinct moments that weren’t quite distinct enough to override the horror show at least a year old now.

She thought it out and came to the conclusion that

a] the day was just a regular day

b] disgust was pointless

and

c] the things Slovenes did at eleven in the morning on what might’ve been a weekday were boring.

She turned on an actual heel and walked back to the hostel, picturing the vial of grey vasic in her head, but half a street in she got jumped by a bookshop, a bookshop she hadn’t noticed before despite being in Ljubljana for nearly a year, and inside the bookshop was a book on Slovene folktales and on page 57 was a chapter headed Krsnik.

As with the other books she’d read, it was all in Slovene so she edged over to a woman nearby and was about to ask her to translate but then she noticed a young man with a green bubble jacket and she asked him instead and because she was alone and it was a weekday the man said, ‘okay, I’ll do it because you’re pretty, but why…

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