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Advanced Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath IV: Citadel of the Ghoul®

by David C. Kopaska-Merkel

His eyes are shut, but he's clicking faster now, he's in the zone, the trance engendered by playing a repetitive game well mastered. And now the veil parts and he sees the stair, sets foot on the topmost step, begins his descent.

Long time he climbs, ever downward amidst sepulchral gloom, and he can hear the chittering of the ghouls in the vast space below him. He is no longer aware of his hands, clicking the mouse, only of the dreamworld.

The air is colder here, and he puts his hands in his pockets, his breath forming evanescent puffs of white. At length he sees a glimmering in the red-litten mirk, but it does not seem to be the expected buttery yellow lamplight of the charcoal burners' village, where he will spend the night.

Disturbingly, the light flickers and, as he draws nearer, assumes a distinctly rosy hue. He smells smoke. In the village he finds the charcoal burners scattered, their huts charred. From the smell, some of the charcoal burners remain in the ruins of their dwellings. He searches, following the paths where survivors fled, trampling their gardens of rare black lilies in hasty flight. Under the eaves of the forest stands Hando, gracious host of previous visits to the dream lands.

"Are you all right, old friend? Who did this?" The traveler demands.

Hando shakes his head. "The ghouls, no longer satisfied with their habitual pungent fare, prey upon the living. My whole family." He cannot go on.

The traveler swears by the bones of his father, resting quietly beneath the groves of lemon trees near Lasturion the Enduring, on the far shore of the inner sea, that he will not rest until a terrible vengeance has been wreaked on the kingdom of the flesh eaters.


"Doctor, he was up here when the power... I called, but he didn't answer. He didn't answer." For a few moments she could not go on. "After a while I came upstairs. I found him slumped over the keyboard, his hand still clicking and moving the mouse. I tried to pry his hand off the horrid thing! I couldn't. I turned off the computer, but his hand still moves, and he will not wake."

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