The Demon of Madness . And I gaveth my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly... . My entry for Nannan's Black Fantasy contest on Classic-Space. Since my LEGO skills are in a far lesser category of awesome than most of the competition, I decided to try to maximize the "level of horror conveyed" as much as possible through background, story, and photo effects. I may have gotten a bit carried away with the story, I know. But anyway, the loss of color in some photos was intentional, and the blurring in others was meant to be either "bokeh" or motion blur. I still hold little hope of doing well in the contest, but I've been needing to build a demon for my LEGO comic ("So You Wanna Be An Adventurer?") anyway, and I enjoyed making it, so I thought I'd try.
(NOTE: The poem quoted near the end is "Alone," by Edgar Allan Poe.)
[What follows is the log of George Lazarus, High Bishop of the Galactic Inquisition, during his investigation of the destruction of Inquisition Colony 04X, on the planet Sophia in the Constantine System]
"And I gaveth my heart to know wisdom, and to know madness and folly:
But I perceived that this also was a chasing after wind.
For in much wisdom is much grief;
And he who increaseth knowledge, increaseth sorrow."
- Ecclesiastes 1:17-18
Upon arriving on the planet which is called Sophia, in the system of the star called Constantine, my team and I beheld a gruesome sight. The entire colony had verily been leveled and burned to fine grey ash (which hung about the air like a fog), seemingly in the same manner as Sodom and Gomorrah were incinerated into oblivion for their sins. All that lay about were skeletons, surprisingly whole, and strange, hellish creatures, black as pitch... the ravenous beasts of carrion that follow the aftermath of all great cataclysms.
As our eyes swept over the scene of death and decay, they settled at length upon a lone survivor, clothed in rags as were all the residents of Colony 04X, a settlement of poverty-stricken miners. His hair was unkempt, his flesh pallid, and his eyes stared directly ahead. It was the stare of a man who had looked Death in the eye, who had seen Hell, and his only regret was that he yet lived to remember it. We would have thought the man dead were not for his ragged breathing and the twisted black spear that he clutched tightly in a single white-knuckled hand, as if its shaft represented the reality which his mind struggled to keep firmly in hold.
I ordered my troops to secure the perimeter as I approached the lone survivor and touched my staff to the cold skin of his face. His eyes did not meet mine, but his mouth parted, as if to speak. I asked the man to recount what had transpired here. What follows are his words, which were recounted in a hoarse, dull monotone, as recorded by my page:
"I did not see how or from whence it came. I was sitting in my house when suddenly all about us was swept away in a wave of flame, our homes blasted apart, our families charred to the bone. The first to die were the lucky ones, for the survivors... we had to witness the cause of this destruction, the machine of blood and flesh and fire and metal that followed...
At first all we saw were its blade-like feet, at least half a dozen of them, as they trampled our homes and impaled our loved ones. I recall grasping one of these limbs in an attempt to hold it at bay, and onto it I clung in terror as I bore helpless witness to the rest of the beast that towered above. All about its legs snaked a million bony tentacles, feeling the ground, searching for prey. They ran their slimy coils over our faces and hands, and some wrapped around the others' bodies, drawing them in...
Drawing them in to a central core, a black iron cage that hung from the beast's belly, surrounded by clanking chains, and inside which burned wheels of fire, spinning like a hurricane, devouring those who were swept into its dark embrace like insects in a raging furnace.
From the thing's grotesque form dropped thousands of tiny insects and spiders, which made their way over the ground, ignoring the trampling of feet, both the demon's and the villagers'. Looking up to divine their source, I beheld the monster's hide, which verily crawled, teeming with masses black legs and claws, tentacles and wings... beasts of the darkness and of carrion...
...monsters of the deep, creatures of the netherworld, some glowing like cinders, wreathed in flame. Even as they fell, more seemed to grow from the creature's hide, crawling out from beneath others, an endless swarm emerging from some unknown and unknowable source.
About the demon's writhing form was wrapped a ring of arcing flames, an unholy halo, and from its back emerged a thousand devilish wings, outspread and hardly moving, as if more to cast a fiendish shadow upon the land than for any supposed flight.
Whenever one of these terrible leathery wings flapped against the hot and sulfuric air, they sent a blast of wind that cut through the warmth like a knife, stabbing into those who felt it like a blade of solid ice. It was impossible to know whether the unbearable torment of the heat or the sudden stabbing cold was worse, but the sudden change between either was nearly unbearable.
It was then that I noticed the demon's roving eyes, attached to tentacles that protruded in every direction. These orbs, gripped in steel fixtures like claws, cast illumination like a fiery spotlight upon whatever unfortunate soul that they fixed their gaze. The ground flickered with their hellish light... but they were not the worst of it. For it was then that I beheld the demon's face...
...or at least what passed for one. For 'twas not a face I saw, but men... ten thousand screaming men, covered in chains of steel as black as their flesh, as though all were being burned alive in boiling pitch or tar, kicking and struggling, clawing at each other... desperate to be free.
Their cries were eerily silent, and could scarcely have been heard over the din of fleeing colonists, except that they seemed to emanate not from the demon but from my own mind. They sounded afar off, as though heard from a great distance, and slow, as if stretched out over all time.
And beneath this horde of tormented souls there lay the creature's maw, surrounded by imbedded men who did not struggle, but remained fixed and rigid. All were armed with deadly blades, weapons of war, instruments of death and torture, which served as the demon's teeth. Inside of these there burned, deep from the beast's throat, a fire like no other..."
At this point one of my companions, an Inquisition naval officer who had accompanied us, interrupted the survivor's tale with a discovery: The marks upon all of the dead seemed to perfectly match the spear that our raving friend so desperately clutched in his skeletal grasp. I thanked the officer for the information, but informed him that this man could not possibly have caused the blaze that destroyed the homes hereabout, and if he were responsible for some of the death's afterward, he would have to answer to the God who had spared him from the initial catastrophe. I then turned back to the survivor and bid him go on. But then his words became even less comprehensible...
"From childhood's hour I have not been
As others were; I have not seen
As others saw; I could not bring
My passions from a common spring.
From the same source I have not taken
My sorrow; I could not awaken
My heart to joy at the same tone;
And all I loved, I loved alone.
Then- in my childhood, in the dawn
Of a most stormy life- was drawn
From every depth of good and ill
The mystery which binds me still:
From the torrent, or the fountain,
From the red cliff of the mountain,
From the sun that round me rolled
In its autumn tint of gold,
From the lightning in the sky
As it passed me flying by,
From the thunder and the storm,
And the cloud that took the form
(When the rest of Heaven was blue)...
Of a demon in my view."
By this point, my comrades were growing alarmed and anxious. They were convinced that this man had committed these horrible atrocities, either in whole or in part, and that he should be made to answer for his crimes.
"Listen to the man, Sir!" one of them cried, "He speaks of madness!"
At the sound of this, for the first time, the survivor's expression changed. Though his eyes remained as cold and lifeless as before, a smile that was even colder still slowly crept over his lips, so cold it sent a chill up even my own spine.
"Madness..." he said. "Yes... that was its name."
In reply to Nannan Z.: UPDATE: I see you've already found them, but here they are anyway...
Hi-res versions can be found on Flickr.
In reply to Kevin Ayler: Hey, come on, show Poe some respect. He's one of my favorite writers, ever. Poe was disputably the INVENTOR of the horror story. Lovecraft came much later and was heavily influenced by Poe himself. Here's a quote from Lovecraft's Wikipedia article: "All these interests naturally led to his deep affection for the works of Edgar Allan Poe, who heavily influenced his earliest macabre stories and writing style known for its creepy atmosphere and lurking fears." That said, I considered using Lovecraft, but wouldn't he have been rather obvious? Besides, I think "Alone" fits the creation almost perfectly.
In reply to Tren509: You know, I was wondering who would be the first one to apply that quote... :-P