Deep in the bowels of a great city predating human civilization lies D’regorra, a name as bitter tasting as the most potent of poisons. D’regorra the Mad Artist, the Seamstress, the Architect of Worlds. D’regorra was the great-granddaughter of the accursed Lord of Time Mgorr who herself was conceived alongside her twin brother Bgorr by the First Cause who itself was birthed from the Void.
In the city, Ben Melrose a notorious tomb raider entered the catacombs of the city alongside his guide. Melrose earned a name for himself from his endeavors of robbing the graves of the deceased to line his pockets by selling off valuables to the highest bidder. It didn’t matter if the deceased were freshly placed into the ground or if their possessions were buried with them. If he had to rip off some fingers to acquire a ring, for instance, he’d do it without any prompts. During one of his heists, he learned of the city’s catacombs. According to his guide, the catacombs belonged to an ancient civilization renowned for their riches. He wasted little time in preparation for his next heist.
He met his guide at the city bar at around 8 PM and came to an agreement of splitting the money once they pillaged the burial grounds dry of everything it was worth. When they arrived at the grounds, Melrose couldn’t help but feel a sense of urgency. Something was amiss was permeating in the air. Feelings of being watched by some invisible observer flared up within him. That slow dread failed to disseminate when he and the guide first stepped foot in the catacombs’ entrance. The guide lit his torch, illuminating the way for them. They trekked their way in a silence fashion. The hours edged along slowly. Melrose began making his irritation clear.
“We have been traveling in circles, good sir,” Ben bemoaned, “I feel as though we’ve walked through this pathway twelve times.”
“I assure you, we are making progress,” the guide replied. He was of a smaller frame and his body was covered with a white cloak. Not once did he ever look directly at Melrose. He carried a torch in tow.
“I am very certain we have traveled this route several times, sir. My patience is wearing very thinly.”
They took a right turn at a wall of the catacombs. The guide placed his torch along the side of it reveals that it was comprised of a series of skulls glued together with mortar. Ben was disturbed by the gesture, but he cleared his throat as a form of regaining composure.
“If you are just going to play childish pranks, then I am through here.”
He started to walk the opposite direction. Realizing that he’d be like a chicken with the head cut off, he saw he had no other choice than to relent and allow his guide to lead the way. They passed more walls made of skeletons and the narrowing of the passageways until they discovered a door. It had weird inscriptions on it.
“What is this gibberish?” Ben asked.
“This is the lair of the old god D’regorra,” the guide explained. He bent down as if he was trying to find something lying on the ground. The torch flickered in his hand until he pushed a stone aside. Underneath it was a key. He brought it close to his face and shined the torch onto it. It had an eye on the bow of it.
“D’regorra?” Ben repeated.
“D’regorra was apart of a pantheon of older gods who crawled out of the deepest, darkest depths of the Void. She used to rule over this world with the other gods, but she was cast down into these very catacombs as we speak.”
The key was slipped into the door’s keyhole and turned counterclockwise. It was a door that wasn’t opened presumably for hundreds of thousands of years. The guide, with the torch in hand, extended his other hand, beckoning Ben inside. Ben’s eyes took a moment to adjust to the darkness of the room, but upon regaining his sense of sight, he saw multiple human-sized objects. His eyes widened in anticipation.
“These must be the riches, old man?”
The guide didn’t respond. He turned to look back seeing that the guide vanished. If he abandoned the operation, it would prove more beneficial to Ben as he would have both shares for the relics. The torch illuminated the room making it easier for Ben to see what he was looking at. In the room, there were hundreds of bodies sprawled throughout. Every orifice of their bodies was sewn shut from their eyes, noses, and mouths. The eyes were the most prominent feature as they had “X-shaped” stitches across them.
“What is this?” Ben asked aloud.
He caught something from the corner of his eye. Directing the torch’s light at a wall, thousands of people stitched together as a grotesque tapestry. They were crudely stuck together in zigzagged patterns. He walked over to the wall for a closer look. One of the victims that contributed to the piece was an elderly man with deep wrinkles on his face and grey facial hair. His legs and abdomen were removed most likely to provide more room for the rest of the tapestry. Without prompt, the elderly man’s eyes shot open causing Ben to drop the torch. The elderly man screamed internally for his mouth was sewn shut.
Ben dashed towards the door in hopes of escape. The other bodies lining the tapestry sprung to life. Ben caught himself looking down. The once motionless corpses lying on the ground were awakening and reaching out to grab him. “Stay back from me!” he yelled.
One of the corpse’s hands shot out grabbing him by the ankle. Ben collapsed and was kicking wildly to loosen the corpse’s grip. In his struggles, the guide returned with a scornful expression. “Where have you been!?” Ben yelped “Save me!”
The guide wordlessly keels over. His back arched with Ben hearing the guide’s spine shatter. A large bulge formed on the man’s back and expanded like a water balloon. Ben braced himself for the inevitable raining of blood and bone fragments that would never come. An immeasurable number of arms erupted from the guide’s back reaching up to the ceiling and extending out the doorway. His legs morphed into more arms while the rest of his body elongated. On his once veiled face was a mask resembling those worn by harlequin performers.
“What are you? Who are you?” Ben screamed. His mind began to rapidly break down from glimpsing at this spectacle. That multi-armed, toothy-grinned creature that didn’t bother pretending to be human in appearance. The corpses did a bizarre thing: they crawled aimlessly towards the large figure towering in the room. They clawed their way up its legs in a manner not too dissimilar to a kitten.
“These are all my playthings,” the creature said, “They have all voluntarily agreed to serve only me.”
The corpses were all over her body now. Some were going as far as to elicit deep moaning coming from their stitched mouths as whistles. Them being servants was one thing. But to what extent did they cater to this being’s will. The attempts at rationalizing what he was seeing drove Ben to utter madness, freezing him in place. He remembered what the guide mentioned to him before they entered this room: he was convinced that he was in the presence of D’regorra, the Mad Artist. She began to speak again.
“So, what shall it be, mortal: will you serve me as well, or will you make a lovely addition to my wall of pain?”
Ben couldn’t speak anything beyond an unintelligible murmur. He had become like a drunkard who was being interrogated by a man of authority. He shook his head but not out of defiance nor acceptance. From his overconfidence, Ben had devolved into a wordless husk barely passing himself off as human.
“I see,” D’regorra said, “my Wall of Pain it is.”
He felt himself getting lifted into the air and getting flung like a heap of dirty laundry on the wall. D’regorra stripped him of his clothing exposing his body to the coldness of the catacombs. Grotesque lines of yarn are drawn out of thin air alongside a needle made from bone. He watched the yarn go into the eye of the needle: in his efforts, he tried to shake himself out of the direction of the needle. He grunted and heaved but D’regorra’s otherworldly powers were keeping him bound.
“This will hurt a lot, I’m afraid,” D’regorra said in a voice faking sympathy.
The needle penetrated Ben’s skin making him scream out in a loud voice. It entered the sides of his torso with lightning speed. He was sprawled out on the tapestry, feeling that his body was being stretched out like a dissected animal. The needle exited his torso and repeated the process on his limbs and the sides of his neck. Blood was dropping to the floor in volumes.
After what felt like an eternity, D’regorra finished her work and sent the needle and yarn away. She stepped back and marveled at her latest addition. Ben was placed in the same line as the elderly man now taking his place as the soundless watcher. D’regorra smirked and transformed back into the guide from earlier before slamming the door shut undoubtedly looking for more additions.
I wasn't sure about how I feel in regards to the independent Eldrich lore you've started with but you've pulled it off pretty nicely I'd say. I'm definitely interested in seeing more of these "elder ones". It sounded mythological enough if I'm being honest, like something you'd see in early greek folk tales; Gaia was the spawn of Chaos, etc.
The plotline seems pretty solid, dude is interesting in exploring something, or is in the mids of going somewhere and we're just thrown into it. The prelude doesn't matter because it really doesn't. Not many writers use this sort of opening effectively.
Also, the way you've used pretty based horror motifs is nice, sometimes less is more and that's good.
I do have to say that D'regorra's name and shape reminds me a little of D'Vorah from MK. Hmmm...
The ending is also pretty good and sensible above all things, where the protag kind of embraces a fate less terrible than just being elder-god food.
Overall it's pretty solid, I do have to mention how you've switched tenses once, "he stands there" or something, instead of "he stood there". I suggest another proofreading.