Weeklies

The Wurd Creature

An instance of the Wurd creature, a deadly significant being. These descriptions were only slightly edited from when they were written in 2011.

“She slung a small, leathern wallet onto the table, with a pad that had been between it and her shoulder. When it landed on the table Chi Luw heard the little, leather thing echo like thunder in a far away cave. The table groaned loudly. Chi Luw was amazed that Shuy Lauh could carry such a weight. Shuy Lauh went and closed the door. The only light was the light of the glowing fire. The wagoner lay back into the corner, and drew his hat down over his face, looking very black, and larger than life, in the sinister light. Chi Luw pulled at the wallet, and it fell from the pad, and rumbled again.

Shuy Lauh revived the fire, then approached the wallet. Chi Luw realized that he feared the moment when she would open it. A fright and a disease radiated from it as it lay, and did not move. It was only partly full. She opened the wallet, and drew forth, or rather, she dragged forth, one small thing like a miniature twisted piece of dry seaweed, stiffer than iron, and heavier than a stone. Its potent danger flowed from it, poisoning the air; the wagoner grunted and shifted. She cast the thing into the fire. The danger seemed to be muffled, but there were more of the tiny things in the wallet.
She drew them out one by one, and cast them in, each passing with a fresh fear into the fire. Chi Luw lost count though there were few of them. The fire did not change as they dropped through the ashes like the point of a poker, until the very last was cast in.

With a single, audible snap, the flames vanished, and the light in the house instantly dropped and ceased to flicker, being that of only the glowing embers. A film of smoke formed on the embers; then nipples which quivered like drops of water appeared, and sent up threads to the roof of the oven, where they wandered slumped down again in shapes like candle smoke. These thickened to ribbons, and then to columns. Then the smoke shuddered, and turned the color of some birds flesh. As this reeled toward the door of the oven, Shuy Lauh closed it, trapping it inside.

They were enclosed with darkness. Time passed, and Chi Luw did not feel that nothing was done in that time, though no human there moved or saw or made a sound, until six hours later when Shuy Lauh opened the oven again.

The inside of the oven was filled with a foggy glow, the color of glowing charcoal. Through the open door he could see a long way beyond the back of the oven, but he did not see the fields. All this distance was filled with long shapes, quivering as if seen through great heat. Their outlines were rather like those of narrow streams of ink, their color was like blood and pink flesh, and they were a little transparent. They were as thick as the branches of a forest, and he thought he could see vague, animal shapes among their drifting forms: a horse, but the legs trailed out of sight among the throng; a hand, but with a wrist so curved to one side that it was impossible, and worse, when the fingers uncurled and began to lengthen like drops of water running down a wet window.

But then the shapes began to pour from the oven like wreaths of glowing smoke into the darkness of the cabin. He moved back. The room seemed to become larger around him. He trembled and felt sick, but it kept coming out, puff after puff, another wreath, another company. He began to hate the very sight of that oven, with its ridiculous swinging door. He wiped his face on his sleeve. His eyes were bleary.

The companies grew larger, one by one they slid forth and rolled up backwards together into a dancing mass of jointed streamers. He shuddered and sat on his heels. He became dazed by the sharp brightness of the color, and mesmerized by the smooth, weightless movements, like insects deep under water. His eyes became sore with staring.

Then it began to come in one long, narrow train, out, and out. There was no end of it, as though the ocean gathered to one place, and sent a chuckling stream flowing inland. No end of it, no end of it, no end of it- he was dizzy. But no end of it- he clenched his teeth, he clenched his hands- but no end- he stood to his feet and stamped.

It came out like a knotty chain. He began to feel that the oven- the whole room- was moving backwards and leaving a bright, red trail. His belly felt knotty too. He would feel hot, and then cold. There was no break in the line. He ground his teeth.

He fell again to his knees and slammed shut the oven door violently. The shapes sprang away from the closing door like blown smoke, but a hand was put out even as it closed. There was a clang, at first much deeper than the clang of his own oven, and there was a ringing like a bowl with water. This faded away into the distance within the oven. His head swam. The hand, snapped off cleanly at the wrist, scampered past on its fingers. His flesh felt wooden; there was a harsh feeling in his blood. Then it seemed that all the blood in his body shot up into his head. There was a throbbing and a ringing in his head that sounded as if he was shut up into a narrow room. This tension the felt seemed worse than his sickness when the door was open. He felt a cool touch on his shoulder, and he looked sharply up and behind.

Shuy Lauh gazed down on him with soft, quiet wrath. He dropped his eyes, and, after a moment, he turned away, put his face on the ground, and laced his fingers behind his head.
“What hast thou done? Thou hast done wrong, it was wrong to close the Door; The Door.”
Chi Luw lifted a faltering hand towards the handle of the Door. Sunlight from nowhere glared off The Door in the dark.
“No!” Shuy Lauh cried out in pain, “Stay back. It will be long before that door may be opened, and long before it shall need to be.”
Chi Luw shuddered.
“Why didst thou close it?” There was no wonder, but rebuke in her voice.
Chi Luw turned, with bent head, and put out a hand to touch her foot. She withdrew it sharply.
“Forgive me, awaal forgive, my mistress. But, why didst thou not withhold me?”
“I knew before what would be, yet I could not have withheld thee.” Shuy Lauh’s eyes darkened. “Thou didst not hearken to my warning.”
“I thought I had listened, but now I shall listen with my thumbs.”
“Take my word as comfort.” Shuy Lauh said in a gentler tone. “Go, open the door of thy house, and let out our meager host now.”
“I serve thee.”

Chi Luw turned, and saw far fewer creatures than he could have expected. A few crooked limbs, crisscrossing in the air. However, the domed, one room of the house seemed far roomier than it ought. It was cooler, too, after the sally of the creatures had ended.

It took too long to cross the room. He passed the creatures slowly- realizing suddenly how massive they were- and continued on towards the door.

He opened it; light and air swept in. And now he felt coolness and warmth before him, and coolness and warmth at his back: warmth of the sun, and coolness of the air, on his forehead, and behind him, the heat of the creatures presence, and the coolness of release from the greater heat of their coming forth. He turned to see if the phantomish twists of lights would vanish in the daylight. He hoped, if they did, that they would take their memory with them. He could not yet think of them as living creatures. He saw them now as numerous as he had seen them in his oven, but set in solid blackness. His hovel no longer seemed roomy, but pinchingly small, as though the open door was a window, the rest of the house the frame, and the entire sky the wall. The window seemed to look out on something very wide, and very close. His heart began to throb, and his knees began to tremor.

As well as he was able, he went up the east side of the house and stood in the grass. He did not feel so sick as he had, and his mind was clearer, but he felt the same distress as when they came from the oven.

They floated from the house like swarms of coarsely spun wasps. They seemed more brilliant in the sun, because they contrasted as fiercely with the daylight as with the dark. And now as they moved out their jagged shapes stood out sharply against the hill and the sky, like red lightning that lit up nothing but themselves by their glare. As he watched, he felt as though he stood on a jug turned on its side, with a stream pouring from its mouth that would never end.

His house became an island. It had a rough, tangled halo of vibrant red. The armies moved like the networks of distorted light on the sandy surface of a clear lake. The creatures twitched like grass blades as they spring up after the foot has been removed from them. Beyond that sour cohort he could see the green backs of the Bah Mer hills, fading into the dusky distance. The air was starting to feel like evening. The host had ceased its second sally at last. The sun was warm, and the wind was keen and cool, and his knees did not shake, but there was still a cold knot in his stomach, and hot blood in his head.

He stepped down to the door, but paused. He was now among the creatures, in the sun, and he felt differently. When he received the tension of the creatures, and became taut himself, he felt that they were less hostile; he could look on them without pain, and without derangement, and could see them clearly. His blood sang in his skin. He felt that there was at least a beginning of a truce. He looked out towards the setting sun. One moment he thought there were no creatures in that direction, only swimming, transparent club shapes, and the next moment he looked quickly away, for the blazing light of the creatures bodies in that direction was more than he could stand. He had seen, cut out against the sky in vivid rose color, the glassy shifting mass of the creatures arms, bodies, and heads. Through their pinkish blood-vein limbs he could see the sun sparkling, as through a hedge. But they seemed to be coming nearer, closing in around. He shivered, and stepped into his hovel…”

Here is another description of a Wurd creature, showing its diversity.

“…Giant rabbits with roebucks legs and the heads of men. They had curly beards, but their heads were bald, and round, and swelling. Some had faces like lamas. All had dim, shining halos. They leapt hither and thither in a strange, quiet dance. As they danced, they would step through cheese like holes in each others bodies. Some had tails like deer, many had tails like whipcord, and many more had tails like antlers.
Their faces were grim…”

Tangled dragonish creature.
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