The Mad Seer
The panda sits, eerily still with her mouth partially ajar. Her dark hood, lined with a strange silvery filigree that twists into the shape of an eye over her forehead, has been pulled low over her face, covering her own stormcloud eyes. It almost doesn’t even look like she’s breathing. She seems to be under the influence of some scavenged drug, or off in her own world. But there’s something inherently wrong about her, a chill as though she doesn’t belong here. Her edges are strangely soft and indistinct, as though she bore her own penumbra. Her clothes are heavily worn, and it’s hard to tell if it’s from use, lack of care, or both. Her black coat, with tattered train and deep hood, obscures what she’s wearing underneath, but you can see what appears to be long strips of cloth wrapped about her, stitched together with larger pieces here and there. The motley ensemble further adds to the unsettling air around her. Her head suddenly snaps to you as she lowers the hood, glossy eyes locking onto yours, and you feel like you’re falling into them. They seem infinitely deep, so dark and empty like the void of space itself. They are the eyes of someone who has seen many, unpleasant things, living horrors you’d rather not consider. You flinch away, and she speaks. Her voice sounds like it would be sweet if not for the hissing tone, as though she was trying to impress something very important upon you.
“Do you hear that? Out in the distance? No, not the wind, nor the rustling of leaves. It’s under that…no…between the leaves, behind the wind. I can hear them whispering. Can’t you? No, it’s probably for the best. You don’t want to know. Stop asking.
“Me? Why do you want to know? Who are YOU? Ah…ah, yes, very well… I am Mizuki. I am…I don’t really remember where. We moved around a lot, in the forests. My family was always talented with bending reality, finding old powers and mastering the nature of reality, but they were always so afraid of what lurked beyond. They told old stories that we should stay far away from them, but they never explained why. They were fools, I knew this. I listened to the whispers of the world and heard so many awesome and terrible things. I have seen the world end a dozen times. I have heard when I will die, when you will die. Do you want to know when?” As if you weren’t already questioning her sanity, she lets out a shrill giggle, further testifying to her unhinged nature. “Of course, perhaps I am a charlatan. Tell yourself whatever you need to sleep. We don’t get enough of it anymore. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have nightmares…
“Hmm? Oh, yes, my family. I am the youngest daughter of two; my sister was always so proud, so…happy. It sickens me, how she must be willfully blind to the transcendent reality, what lurks beyond, the shadows that pass behind us. She was the favorite child, and I was miscreant who talked to herself, earned sidelong glances. They thought I didn’t notice. They were wrong, they were all wrong. I saw them, I knew, and the shades of this world confirmed my suspicions. They were afraid of me, of what I had seen, of what I could hear, what I knew was out there. So I left. If they wouldn’t help me, if they would only fix me as they saw fit, I would not need such misguided fools. But that was just it. I could hear it, occasionally see it, but I knew not what it was. Such secrets lost to us that may be recovered, oh, but such awful things they will do, trying to claw their way into this world. It has happened before, and will happen again. Sha’naragh, ulum-i naraga kuu! It will happen again… But, perhaps it can be delayed. Some of the voices insist that, with preparedness, we can push back the tide, but sooner or later it will always crash in, washing the shore clean. We must learn more, find the weak spots where they will come to us before they claw their way through. We must work quickly, we must narak hui kha! So much we might discover, such power at our grasp. It will destroy us! Mend the nine veils, or see the world be torn to shreds as the IT IS TOO LATE! THEY COME, THEY COME! They do not live, they do not die! They are outside of the cycle! Uulwi ifhi’s kanharazh zhalagh! Quickly, before all is lost! Seek he who bears the iron mane, with the daylight shell of rain. Should raven call be fell in twain, thrice ten steps withershins cross amber plain. Ia gorom naxja!”