In the darkness they came into the monastery. The screaming, wailing, and crying of a thousand shattered souls filled the rock hallways and rooms until it permeated the air. The last time we had bore witness to this was during each of our partial transformations. Slowly we slipped into the madness, unable to escape our personal nightmares and the real ones slowly approaching.
Another voice rose from the darkness; a deep commanding voice that silenced the terror and allowed us to focus. The brothers were chanting, throwing the full weight of their voice and sanity into maintaining reality. The thoughts in my mind coalesced, like a stream finally clearing itself of mud and grit. And with focus brought clarity of the situation – the Unreal had broken through and now we would have to fight to clear them out. Thankfully the chanting was slowly turning the tide of unreality changes. The walls were untwisting, stone stopped seeping coagulated blood, and the curved archways were no longer made of bone and sinew. The stench of a hundred rotting corpses however, filled every gasping breath.
Focus. I was alone in the dormitory, still recovering from change sickness. Panic crept back in, to defend against just one would be a challenge, but if a group came at once... I pulled away from the thought, focused on the chanting that made the rock vibrate with its intensity. A sickening red light filled the doorway, casting long grotesque shadows against the walls – the moment had come.
One of the Unreal entered the dorm, barely resembling a human. Gaunt, gray skin was stretched to tearing over elongated limbs. Its chest was split open down the middle, cracked ribs splayed out to either side forming a cage of bone through which rotting organs were held in place by dozens of grasping fingers. There was no face, rather an almost mirror image of the chest was repeated here. Two grasping hands slowly unfurled to reveal mouths within mouths, full of perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth; the obscene perfection a stark contradiction to the rest of its corpse.
Sensing my presence, those dozen mouths started chattering, hundreds of teeth clicking against each other in a horrific staccato rhythm. I could feel the creatures will to bend reality around me and I pitted myself against it. With the chanting from the brothers, the creature couldn't complete changing the physicality of the room. Momentary mouths, made of stone, would appear in the walls only to revert back to smoothness a second later. I joined my will with that of the Guardians and touched reality as it was.
It's always important to remember that whenever changing reality you always run the risk of completing your transformation. Because to change reality around you means comprehending completely whatever substance you touch and the human mind simply cannot handle that information. In this case, I briefly understood stone. Felt the pressure of the mountain bearing down, felt the grit, understood its atomic structure and felt its subatomic vibration. I began to bend it. Slowly, just a few atoms began to shift and move. I pushed more stone into existence, rapidly now a protrusion started to form on the rock above the creature. In one more second a spike of stone thrust down from the ceiling and impaled the Unreal before me. Its head split open, mouths still moving suddenly acted as if they were swallowing the stone. I pushed more.
I could see the spike rip its way through decaying organs as it passed through the center of its body. Snapping bone the column shot through the bottom of the creature and fused into the floor. It sat there jerking, mouths gasping around the rock, elongated limbs dancing around and grasping the rock.
I thought it was over.
Hands grabbed either side of its cracked, split head and began to pull with a furious strength. Bones broke and paper thin skin ripped as the creature tore itself in two. I wanted to vomit, I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry. Was this my madness? Had I changed too much in too short a time? I didn't know what was real.
Two halves fell to either side of the rock and those grasping fingers inside the body slowly pulled the disparate parts back together. This couldn't be happening. But a refusal to believe only meant that I would be giving into a reality I didn't dictate. Fingers found each other and the body slowly knitted itself back together, arms and legs spasming as if connections were being tested again. I reached again for the stone, but I was unfocused and lost to my fear. I could feel the mental presence of the creature regaining its strength and in my terror I tried shifting reality from three different parts of the floor.
The room spun sickeningly. I vomited down the front of my tunic as I fell to my knees. I knew instantly I had tried changing too much at once. The creature was once again on its feet and was now walking, joints grinding and molars gnashing, towards me. Again I tried reaching out, this time to the flame flickering above the torch on the far wall. I pulled and a thin tendril of fire snaked its way from the burning wick. I was connected, I could feel the heat, understood the mechanics of the flame, forced more oxygen into the reaction. The thin tendril grew into a writhing snake of flame. I consumed the Unreal.
Nothing was certain, I knew I had crossed the line. The world shifted around me again. Silent flames burned along the walls, but they reached for the ground instead of the ceiling. I dropped my head down to my chest and witnessed the flesh of my arms cracking open and blistering. Where was the pain? Perhaps I was lost to the terror of my mind.
I opened my mouth to scream and my burnt vocal chords rasped against super heated air.
It was walking through the flames, untouched, mouths opening and closing more rapidly now. Sensing their meal was at hand. I had nothing left, my mind shattered, barely able to comprehend the nightmare around me. Reaching out, it grasped my shoulders and hauled me to my feet. At once the mouths stopped and instead the sounds of snapping bones filled the space along with the hiss of the near soundless fire. Protruding rib bones flexed outward and the hands holding the organs inside opened up to reach for me instead. Wet smacking sounds of organs hitting the floor accompanied my out of control breathing.
I was slowly brought toward its yawning chest cavity; the hands inside grasping at the fabric of my clothes. Finally I felt pain. The bones of the creatures chest began to press back inwards, piercing my sides with an unbearable slowness. I could feel my skin flexing inward before splitting open. Unable to gasp my body shook with pain. I looked up and the mouths once silent, ground together and gnashed again as it lowered its head. Maybe this is all just in my head...