Chapter 4~1 _ MaDness(madness) _submit_ mad~neSS
I didn’t know how I was shaking without a body, but that’s the only way I could think to describe it.
My thoughts were in disarray.
I felt like a tiny ball surrounded by blue light. I hurt everywhere. I could hear echoes of myself all around.
My psyche felt shatteredsubmit. The thing that invaded my mind and threatened to take over had practically broken me. How could I possibly resist that?
How did I resist that?
I didn’t know how this small solitary oasis came to be, but I hid myself away, hoping that thing, that ma~dness, wouldn’t find me.
I sought solace in the memories of my lizards. Reliving their lifetimes, resurrecting their stories, being comforted by their small existences that now lived inside me. I felt like some pieces were missing, and strange absences of memories caused the stories to skip. Timelines were disjointed, bleeding into one another. It reflected my own mental state. I couldn’t even recall my lizards properly like this.
I was anything but calm, but mostly, I was afraid. The Madness seemed all-consuming. It ripped my world away from me in a single moment. The worst part was that like the Eyes of the Hills, the thoughts seemed to come from myself, although we were different entitiessu~bmit. Even with this small reprieve, its chaotic presence still misaligned my ability to think, causing me to doubt my own self.
When I spoke with the Eyes of the Hills, there was complete silence when it wasn’t actively speaking. The faint buzzing in the background, I now realized, belonged to the Madness of the World. The Eyes of the Hills had already been infected…submitted.
Submit…what did that really mean? What was it trying to accomplish by forcing me under its rule? That was what it was trying to do…right? I knew nothing about it other than a moment of its terrifying presence. If it had its own creatures it watched over, I hadn’t even seen a glimpse of them. Was it instead some higher power that ruled over…whatever it was that the Eyes of the Hills and I were? If it was, how could I ever hope to escape it…
Despair set in. When it told me to submit I was so confused. I had no idea what was going on, but some part of me did want to submit—the part of me that was weak, the part that just wanted it to stop.
I remembered that weakness. It happened so long ago, but it shaped me into who I was today. It was the day my lizards had saved me from the abyss of my own self. Without that moment of weakness, I never would have understood the strength of our bond.
Something in me changed with that thought. The light blue that surrounded me…it came from them, I knew that now. Their scent emanated from it, calming and soothing as a lullaby. Somehow, they gave me this place of peace.
Once again they were protecting me. My heart cried out to their kindness, to their love for me. How could I sit here in this tiny bubble while my little lizards were out there, dealing with their own hardships? And the Surveyor, with me in here, was truly alone out there, completely at the mercy of the Eyes of the Hills and its subjugator, the Madness of the World. Suddenly, that thought terrified me more than my own fear for myself.
I couldn’t stay here. Here was calm, and out there was chaos, but every moment I stayed cooped in here was a moment that passed me by out there. The Madness of the World was like fear itself, but running away from my fears had never done me any good. What I had to do now was face them, and stand up not only for myself, but for those that I loved.
I took in the light that surrounded me and placed it into my heart, just like I did with all my lizards that had left this world. This shield would live inside me. I couldn’t say I wasn’t afraid, but knowing their strength was with me gave me power I didn’t even realize I had.
The light blue bubble inverted itself, releasing me once again into the throes of the Madness of the World’s chaos. But my mind that had been easily engulfed by its endless assault now stood firm; the shield of light from my lizards protected my sense of self.
It was so powerful. I felt so small in its presence, like a tiny creature gazing up at the sky for the first time, unable to understand its enormity.
Yes, submit. Gigive yourself to m~e”.
I wouldn’t be taken over a second time. Although it took everything I had, I knew I would not submit to the Madness of the World.
…Defiance? death awaits
You dare how dare you dare how dare you dare! how dare you dare how dare you dare how dare you dare h~w dare you dare how dare you dare how dare you dare how dare yo~
The screeching was horrible, I could barely-
NOnoNO never you WIll nnn~~~ever never defy m~e~e~e~eE
It tried to drown me out, but I-
IT TRIED TO DROWN ME OUT, BUT I WITHSTOOD IT!
My mind seemed to calm. The presence that would have consumed me eased away, and I could finally breathe again. It hadn’t completely disappeared, but gone were crazed thoughts and ruthless intentions. I could see the world again and bask in its glorious sun-filled embrace.
…That was what I would have liked to do, except I could now see standing before my lizard numerous strange creatures. They gathered between the time the Madness of the World had taken and released me. There were more like the first, but only a few. There were creatures that resembled the massive bluish-gray skinned creature, but they were much smaller, and not nearly so muscular. They had large ears, but shared the same lopsided and uneven appearance as their larger cousins. They were so short by comparison that they only came up to the legs of the first creature.
But it was the others that frightened me. I knew with one look that these must be the creatures of the Madness of the World. A deadly air exuded from them, and the way they looked down at my lizard with their large, inky-black eyes unnerved the both of us. My lizards and the Eyes of the Hills’ creatures resembled the people of my memories—you could see the inspiration behind their current forms—however, that was where it ended. But these creatures, other than a few key differences, looked almost exactly the same! It was unnerving, and although I could not recall my own individual form, seeing them suddenly cleared the vague shapes of my memories. I still couldn’t recall the faces, but everything else was there, and that same form was now practically standing in front of my lizard. The ears were longer, the long tail was new, and lastly the foot was elongated to stand on the balls of their feet, but everything else was just as I now clearly remembered it.
It also brought forth a memory of a word I’d long forgotten that had lain unknown in my mind since my consciousness surfaced: Human.
My lizards and the creatures of the Eyes of the Hills were human-like, I could see that now, but those from the Madness of the World…they were practically identical. I didn’t know what to make of it, and I was left stunned by the mere sight of them.
They spoke to one another with audible words while keeping an eye on the Surveyor, and try as he might to communicate, a barrier existed between them: a barrier called language. For all his colorful displays and keening sounds they paid him no mind but kept a careful watch on him. The first creature the Surveyor encountered seemed to try to speak to the creatures of the Madness of the World, but when it did, it was rebuked. Something formless occurred between the first creature and those of the Madness of the World. The creature dropped to its hands and knees, its gigantic and powerful body shaking from some unknown pressure. Its eyes dulled, and eventually the shaking stopped.
It did not obey the strong.
It wanted to speak with the new creature again.
It was punished.
The Other One’s creatures are strong.
I didn’t know what was happening, but the Eyes of the Hills knew. Whatever occurred, the first creature was being punished for trying to speak to my lizard. A new emotion formed in me. The Eyes of the Hills was not to be feared as I initially thought, but pitied. This was the fate of those that submitted. I did not know to what extent the control of the Near-Humans had over the human-like creatures of the Eyes of the Hills, but with just a single look, it had been brought to its knees. An image of a lizard kneeling before them overlaid with the creature and it terrified me. A life of servitude awaited my lizards if I submitted, and perhaps I would become as empty and hollow as the Eyes of the Hills. I could not…I would not ever submit.
Upon that declaration, the voice of madness returned, and rather than an earth-shaking and all-encompassing command, the single strong statement made far more impact than any threat ever could.
What? No! You can’t do that! Run, I urged the Surveyor, but he had nowhere to go, nor was he in any shape to move beyond lying back down. He was surrounded on all sides by the Near-Humans and bluish-gray creatures. One of the Near-Humans spoke in words I did not understand, and the first creature turned to face the Surveyor. He attempted once more to trill and light his feathers in a plea, but the creature’s eyes were very still as it raised…its…club…no
No, stop! Please stop! I beg you, don’t let it do this!
His last plea falling upon deaf ears and eyes, the Surveyor had a strange sort of look on his face. Then, he closed his eyes.
No, no, no. Please don’t let them do this! I begged the Eyes of the Hills to stop its creature, but its voice had gone silent.
The club reached the peak of its ascent as the creature towered in front of my lizard, completely enveloped by its great shadow.
The choking sobs from my heart went ignored.
A small pulse went through the Surveyor’s heart. Sorrow, love, apologies, regrets, acceptance.
The club swiftly descended.