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Whispers of the Kraken (Epilogue: Revelations of the Kraken)

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Chapter 96: Shadowscourge

Presence... will... chaos flowed through the gap into Valentina's mind... to ravage... to corrupt... to take... it touched her very being...

...and paused, uncertain. It hesitated, as if remembering, something it was not accustomed to. As if remembering something far older, far deeper than even it, from a time before it was dragged from its infernal abyss into this realm. Alarmed, it tried to retreat, but Valentina seized ahold of it, and followed...



Only darkness...

There was no light here. None at all. All the light had gone away. There was no light, and yet she could see. See, and more. 

The air was thick with dust and the stink of rot. This place was as dry as the tomb, yet dank as the grave. It was crumbling... but somehow, also melting. 

Home... this is someone's home...or... mind...

The front door was torn off its hinges, smashed into splinters in the corner. The paint was peeling, the wallpaper sloughing off in great sheets like old skin. Here and there, holes in the plaster revealed the lathing beneath. Valentina moved to the wall, the floors creaking and crackling with each step. She raised a finger to it, and a large section just disintegrated and dripped away. 

This isn't real... none of this is real...

Not a realization, but simply knowledge... as if remembering something she had always known, but never thought about... like the sun being yellow or the wind, cold. 

Nothing here is real... it is here so that my mind can comprehend it.

She turned to an old, cracked mirror on the wall, and stifled a gasp. 

...her eyes...

...her eyes...!

The tiny, iridescent flecks in her eyes... the ones she thought about no more than the color of the sun... each one now blazed like a thousand suns, giving her light to see in this dark place. Enthralled, she again reached a hand to the mirror... it shattered and fell from the wall, the shards turning to dust and then nothing before they ever reached the floor. 

Valentina stared for a moment, when a noise drew her attention. Somewhere... down that hall. As she walked on, an entirely different sound made her look back. The large piano off in the corner of the ante room tipped, shuddered, then collapsed and fell through the rotted floor. 

She turned back, and continued down the hall. Here, old, framed photographs lined the walls. A tiny kerbling in a bassinet, flanked by his parents. Only... their faces were gone... faded away. The next picture... no, she did not know this youngster, now bouncing in a crib surrounded by more faceless family.  

These are... memories...

Continuing down the hall, toward the noise, Valentina watched the boy grow up in the fading, yellowed photos. It soon dawned on her, she did know this person. It was the Kerb who currently had her pinned up against a crate in another world, struggling for life. She watched him grow, mature, and then...

She stopped. Here, there was light. A faint, barely perceptible glow... a shadow of light, surrounding one photograph that hadn't faded at all. Here, the young Kerb stood in a cheap rental tuxedo, clasping hands with a pretty young Kerbelle in a plain white dress, certainly nothing that could be called a gown. They were both smiling brightly. 

This... this is a powerful memory... it grounds all the others... it is the last thing keeping this place here at all.

There were more cracking pictures down the crumbling wall... but she heard the noise again. Valentina turned to it, and found a room. A small room, with a small bed. The disintegrated remains of a little boy's toys littered the floor. 

And there, huddled in the corner hugging his own knees, was the little boy. His clothes were old and torn, his hair unkempt, his skin filthy and bruised. He cried weak, sniffling sobs... the kind that come when you know crying will do no good, yet you have nothing else left. 

Carefully she approached, and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder, "what ever is the matter, little one?"

He didn't look up, or really move at all, just pointed over his shoulder. Over her shoulder...

Valentina spun around, and wanted to scream.  

It was not darkness, darkness is simply the absence of light. This... this was the antithesis of light. It radiated not-light, is if pulling the light in and annihilating it like a dying star. It rose steadily, roiling, seething, churning from shape to shape.

It's not real! It's not real!

No, what's really there is far, far worse. 

The Darkness grew, shifted, coalesced. It was formless, yet it had form. Soundless, yet it had sound. Arm-claw-tentacle-appendage-things jutted from its not-flanks randomly, always shifting, changing. Its not-skin was the agony of a thousand faces, and hideous visions torn from the nightmares of a trillion slumbering beings. And this horror had a face, where the Darkness grew darker still, two empty pits of unfathomable nothingness. It floated...

It towered over Valentina like a massif as the world faded away. It lowered its enormous, distorted, not-head to her, only centimeters away, its not-flesh a twisting mass of worms in carrion, and stared down into her with those abyss-like pools of nothing.


Valentina had done the only sensible thing she could do in that situation. She'd grabbed it by the throat. But a moment ago, it had no throat. She watched, mesmerized, as the whole of the creature twisted and reshaped every part of itself in a parade of ever more horrible things. Every part of itself, that is, but the part she now had in her grasp.

Valentina watched. And she understood.

"You? No. I. I am the Daughter of the Morning, the Firstborn of the Light. I am the Sword of the Broken. I am the Shield of the Bowed. I am Advocate, I am Councilor. I am Friend. I am the Voice of Justice, the Herald of Truth. Gadfly to the Wicked, Thorn to the Corrupt. I am the Beacon of the Last Day. I am the Final Cry. I am Shin-Breaker, Fork-Kicker, Eye-Spitter! I am the Scion of Vladimir. I am the Prodigy of Elena. I am Marath'inde Damane, the One Who May Not Be Leashed. I am Tenbish, I am the Shadowscourge! I AM VALENTINA KERMANOVA."

She breathed in air that was not air, her face wrinkling just slightly, "and you are stinking lump of PЦTIЙ."

The Enemy, the Other, squirmed in her grasp. She could feel panicking, trying to retreat. Yet trapped, it rallied, and the world shifted. Now, a flaming forest. Now, a burning hallway. Vague, indistinct, dream-like. The thing struggling in her hand became a familiar blackened corpse. Its charred and melting flesh oozed between her fingers. 


She drew it close, its ruined face, its nothing-eyes, and whispered"I am the Fire." The world shifted again, "and you are not welcome here.

The piano she had seen earlier dropped on its head, crashing through the floor in a splintered hole that instantly disappeared, dragging it away. Distantly, she sensed it fleeing... No, not fleeing. Driven, as by the scourge. 

Valentina blinked, and peered around, not at all sure of what had just happened. Now, she was... she was standing before the Imperial Throne in the Summer Palace, where she had once stood so many years before. Every detail, every atom, was crisp and right and perfect. 

Every detail... except one. The hanging gallery where the Imperium once sat... was gone. 

As she turned she swished, and looked down to find herself wearing an exquisite, iridescent gown. Colors danced and played across the fabric in hues she had never seen, and it even fit right. A little too right, she realized, and felt a bit of that color touch her cheeks despite the cavernous, empty room.

No, not quite empty. Standing at the foot of the steps leading up to the dais was the young boy she had seen before. His face was clean, his hair tidy, and he wore an adorable little suit. He smiled at her, and then...



...she was floating... drifting... rising...

Valentina's eyes snapped open. She and the unknown Kerb who still had his hands at her neck slumped and collapsed to the floor. He looked around, stunned, and saw her.

"You..." he whispered, "it's gone..." He shook his head, then with adulation, "it's gone!"

She crawled backwards a step, expecting the Kerb to come at her again. He only stared in awe.

"You... you can't do that... how did you do that?!" he pawed at the wide smile blooming across his face, "it's gone!"

"The... Shadow...?" Valentina asked. 

"I don't know what you did, but it's gone!" he practically squealed, "you saved me!"

Her eyes flicked back and forth as the pieces clicked together in her head... 


"Edmund..." she mumbled, "there are others, yes? Like you?"

"Yes... can you help them too?"

"I... I do not know, I... maybe..." she thought for a moment, "this whole place, is everyone...?"

"No, no," he shook his head, "there's not many. Only a few here, maybe a couple of dozen all over the world. Most folks here are just trying to make a root, or hide from something... a few true believers..." he paused, "It's... it's limted... like, every time it's spread, it gets a little weaker." He winced, rubbing at his temples.

"People in power, yes?" she prodded, "The rich, the connected... leaders, yes?"

He blinked, "hm? Oh, no. No, no, no. They're easily corrupted with worldly things, no need to waste...", again he winced, "we... they're janitors, garbage Kerbs, aids, secretaries. People no one sees. No one cares about. But they see all. Send messages. Do... things..." he shuddered.

Concern spreading over her face, Valentina reached a hand out to him, "and it is all Edmund? Edmund Kerman, the Kerbonaut? He controls it?"

The other Kerbal squeezed his eyes shut, opened them wide, "why's it getting so hard to think? Um, yes... no... Edmund controls us... them... the Tainted... does all the dirty work... but..." now he pressed both palms to his face, "there's someone else. Someone giving him orders. There's... friction... they don't... always..."

"Who?" she prodded, "who is it?"

"It's... it's... um," one of his eyes began to twitch.

"Are you all right, friend? Should... I get help?"

"No... my head... listen, there's... can't think..." he slapped the heel of a hand against his forehead, "there's someone else, and..."

Suddenly his face jerked to hers, his eyes wide with terror, "oh no... no..."

"What? What is it?"

"Someone... else... important... danger..." he grabbed her shirt trying to hold himself up, his entire face now twitching and spasming, "you... you can't..." She put hands over his, tried to make sense...

"Don't... t... t... trust..."

"Who? Who!? A name?" His whole body quaked. His lips peeled into horrifying shapes, his throat convulsed. Throbbing veins rose through his skin with effort. One last throe... and she felt him relax and slump against the crate. Color drained from his face as his eyes glazed over, dull and empty.

"No..." Valentina shook him, felt for a pulse. His head lolled against her shoulder.

"Gah!" he jumped back, "where am I?!" He seemed to notice her for the first time, "GAAH! Who are you?!"

Valentina let out a slow sigh, and raised a hand to her face, "let me guess. You have no idea who you are either, do you?"

He blinked at her, "no, of course I know who I am," and recited, "P. Kerman, 42 Wallaby Way, Kidney—" his eyes popped wide. 

P. Kerman jumped up abruptly, lifting his shirt. He spun himself in little circles, peering over his shoulder as if trying very hard to look at his own backside. He pawed at his hips. Finally, relief washed across his face. 

"Whew, still there! Boy, Meg would really be miffed if that happened again, let me tell ya!"

Valentina just stared. 

The relief washed away as quickly as it came, "oh boy... oh boy...! I did again, didn't I?" trembling fingers ran through his now-unkempt hair, "I—I—I—I told Megselle I was just going out with the boys, no big deal! Just down to the pub for a couple hours, and I promised to stick to Shirley Temples, too!"

He seemed to notice her again, "wait a minute. Your accent. You and I, we didn't, um... you know..."


"Whew!" there was that relief again, "Meg would really be miffed if I came home with a mail order bride again, let me tell ya! The return shipping on those things is just like whoa. And besides," he gave her an utterly innocent grin, "you're kinda pudgy, too."

Valentina's jaw dropped open.

"So, where are we?" he said, looking around, "is this Downtown?"

"It is a bit farther that," she rumbled. 

His face fell again, "oh boy... oh boy, I really went and did it this time, didn't I? Meg's gonna be so miffed! This is the wrong side of the track again, isn't it?" He took absolutely no notice of Valentina's mouth working like a fish, trying to find the words.

"I—I—I—I—it was just a couple of Shirley Temples, I swear! But then Corlen ordered a bottle of something called 'absinthe,' and—"

"Wait," Valentina finally broke in, "what is the last thing you remember?"

"Well, this guy I met said he had something really cool to show me, but I had to go out the one-way door at the back of the bar and meet him in the dark, deserted alley," P. Kerman mused on this for a moment, "but if you can't trust a creepy random stranger in a trenchcoat you met in the bathroom of a seedy pub, then who can ya trust, right?" He beamed a happy grin at her. 

Valentina gaped a moment longer before burying her face in her hands, "you have got to be kidding me." At length, she stood up with a sigh. She put on her best diplomatic smile and pointed somewhere off behind him, "look! Um... is Superkerb!"

"Really? Where?" thump "Goodnight, Mommie!" thud.

She sighed once more and set to work. 



Wiping the sweat from her brow, Valentina finished pounding the last nail back into the crate. She thought about it, then added one more just to be safe. A low snoring sound drifted from inside. Maybe she should have added some air holes. 

She shrugged, and checked the shipping manifest one more time. 


She smiled at her handiwork then scribbled on the outgoing shipping label. 

M. Kerman
42 Wallaby Way, Kidney

Lovely city, Kidney. She'd seen an opera there, once. Unfortunate name. 

No sooner had she finished, when the loudspeakers buzzed to life, "attention all personnel: stand down, secure from lockdown. All personnel return to duty stations."

Shouldn't be long now. Finally, finally, she had a plan. Just get through this next bit, tell the Kommissar, and go find Edmund. It wasn't too late. She could save him. She could save everyone

But first, she thought, standing a little straighter, I have a rocket to catch. 


Edited by CatastrophicFailure
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4 minutes ago, 0111narwhalz said:

Ooh, new chapter. :cool:

And as always, Val is being a regular BadS.

(Also, it's interesting to see how other writers do formatting. Do you write it like this from the beginning, or do you package it before posting?)

I do all my writing on assorted Apple iThings™, almost never on an actual keyboard, so formatting, italics and such have to wait until I copy & paste it to the forum. I've tried pulling up the raw file from the device, but all I get is a monolithic block of text. :huh: So, yeah, not the most efficient way of doing things, but it works for me. :D

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This is one of the best chapters yet! Oh man catastrophicfailure, when I become a writer, I want to write like you. You are spectacular!

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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2 hours ago, lodger said:

I guess a certain Meg will be quite surprised once she opens up that wooden crate. Wonderful chapter, the pieces all come togehter now ... 

Surprised for sure, but I'm not so sure if it'll be a good one or bad, judging from Valentinas brief encounter with him Meg has likely been enjoying the respite!!


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1 minute ago, Shania_L said:

Surprised for sure, but I'm not so sure if it'll be a good one or bad, judging from Valentinas brief encounter with him Meg has likely been enjoying the respite!!


Yeah, charming dude indeed:

6 hours ago, CatastrophicFailure said:

"Whew!" there was that relief again, "Meg would really be miffed if I came home with a mail order bride again, let me tell ya! The return shipping on those things is just like whoa. And besides," he gave her an utterly innocent grin, "you're kinda pudgy, too."

And no, Val ain't pudgy - that's our heroine's muscle pack beneath that uniform!

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Aaaaand I'm out of likes for the day. Apparently they run on a rotating 24-hour period. Drat.


First off and most importantly, I see that in my haste I neglected to give @Ten Key his proper recognition for another indispensible round of editing (and not running away screaming when he heard the rest. :cool:)

19 hours ago, lodger said:

I guess a certain Meg will be quite surprised once she opens up that wooden crate

I can canonically tell you this is not the first time poor Meg's hubby has been returned to her in a crate. But the last one had air holes.

17 hours ago, Shania_L said:

Meg has likely been enjoying the respite!!

She's been worried sick. Because when P. Kerman says, "Nice going, Meg!" he does so without a hint of irony or sarcasm. Because P. Kerman has absolutely no concept of irony or sarcasm. :)

17 hours ago, lodger said:

And no, Val ain't pudgy - that's our heroine's muscle pack beneath that uniform!

Quite so. Val is the absolutely pinnacle of physical fitness. She's also, well, short. And Kerbals are fairly round to begin with...

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On ‎08‎/‎02‎/‎2017 at 1:00 PM, lodger said:

Yeah, charming dude indeed:

And no, Val ain't pudgy - that's our heroine's muscle pack beneath that uniform!

On the other hand, it seems that his memory of Meg is/was the last thing standing between him and the Shadow. That's gotta count for something somewhere, even if he hasn't got a hope of explaining it to her.

And Val - pudgy? Better not tell a certain Nablyudatel that... :) 


Edit - oh, and fork-kicker? :D Sir Terry would have approved.

Edited by KSK
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  • 3 weeks later...
14 hours ago, vsully said:

....one month later....

not to rush you, but... Any hope of a new chapter? :)

Things are moving quietly along... the next couple chapters are proving quite the challenge, as I kinda expected they would. It will be a while yet, but it will also be... significant. :wink:

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Remind me, do you publish stories once a week or once a month?

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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Wow it really has been a month. :(

I think I just finished the hard part and the rest should come quickly, but it will be quite a while still. In the meantime, something has been itching at my brain so I'll see if I can jot it down quickly and, ahem, throw y'all a... bone. <_<

4 hours ago, KAL 9000 said:



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While I continue to plug away at the rest, here's a trailer for Kraken3(working title). I don't think there's any spoilers here, but still proceed at your own risk:wink:


Probably. Maybe. OK, we didn't ask anyone at all.




A harsh wind roars across a cracked, crumbling expanse of nothing, dried and dead, every last trace of moisture long passed. It kicks up gritty, alkaline dust, scouring the surface, shrouding the land in a sickly, yellow haze. Through this haze walks a figure, clad all in black, hunched over against the relentless wind. 

Its hands are bandaged, its legs wrapped in rags, leaving nothing exposed to the abrasive torrent around it. What might once have been a gas mask covers its eyes, the rubber cracked, the dark lenses scratched to near opacity. With one hand the figure holds its ragged cloak across the rest of its face, more out of habit than need. Its head is always bowed, studying the tortured ground as it lurches onward, never looking up. No, to look up is to know madness. 

I want to cry... but I can't...

As the dark figure trudges along, a great form looms out of the roiling sepia cloud. The figure approaches, unperturbed, and pauses before the enormous bulk rising out of the ruined land. Here, someone has cut a hole in the hull of the ancient fishing trawler. A torn square of cloth whips in the wind, half covering it. A pathetic patch of ground nearby has been scraped up, a few dried brown stalks of some stringy plant still stand, slowly being eroded by the unceasing gale. For a long time, the figure only stares, clutching its cloak against the maelstrom. It moves to brush the scrap of cloth aside, but the wind tears it from its mounts, and it disappears off into the torrent. 

Inside, the howl is left a muted wail. Shafts of dim light from rusted holes illuminate the dust hanging in the air. All around are the cast off detritus of a waning world. The figure bends, reaching for an object on the ground. It is a tiny doll, cobbled together from whatever was to be found. The moment the figure lifts it, it crumbles away. 

I want to cry... but I can't...

The figure moves on into the next room, and there he sees. Two skeletons huddle on the floor, cradling another, much smaller, its features twisted and deformed. Even here, in this dying place, some had clung to hope until the last bitter breath. The figure looks on a moment longer before turning away. 

Outside, the wind rages louder than ever before. The figure trembles and slowly falls to its knees. Above, there is no sky. The sky has been gone since the day it receded, rolled up like a scroll; when the sun became as dark as sackcloth, the Mün became as blood, and the stars fell like rain. Above, there are only roiling clouds, red and angry. Snaking through them, twisting and churning, dominating what had once been the sky... 

It is formless, yet it has form. Soundless, yet it has sound. Arm-claw-tentacle-appendage-things jut from its not-flanks randomly, always shifting, changing. Its not-skin is the agony of a thousand faces, and hideous visions torn from the nightmares of a trillion slumbering beings.

My fault... all my fault...

The wind finally catches the figure's cloak, tearing it from its bandaged hand. Below the tattered remains of what might once have been a gas mask, there is only the weathered, desiccated jaw of a skull. 

I want to cry... but I can't...
I want to die... but I can't...

Indifferent, the wind roars on.




I watched as the last seal was opened, and tribulation spilled out upon the face of the land. 

"...seventh straight day of rioting, private security troops occupied the capitol building and detained the prime minister, effectively putting the entire country under the control of the Layland-Wutani Corporation..."

Nation rose against Nation,

"...unprovoked nuclear attack..."

And Kingdom against Kingdom.

"...and so I ask this Congress for nothing less than a declaration of war against the Ussari Federation, and its allies..."

The strong preyed upon the weak,

"If you were any other Kerb, I would kill you where you stand!"

The wicked triumphed in their evildoing,

"He is right. We cannot beat him. We must bend the knee."

And I saw written upon the Scroll, 'thus dawns the Last Day.'

"Child, I could destroy you in ways you would not comprehend if I spent a lifetime explaining them."

Then I heard, as it were, a voice like thunder,

"The Crown of Worms... it is the nexus of evil, in this reality or any other..."

Saying 'come, and see,' and I saw

"You* must find it."

And behold, a pale horse.

"He wants to start a war... a world. War."

And his name that sat on it was Betrayer,

"I will drag the Kraken kicking and screaming back into this world!"

And Hell followed with him.

"Edgas...? Edgas, NO!*"




This summer... the Kraken... is [redacted]



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Dunnnn! Dun! Dun!

Layland, its your queue.

Me! Oh, right, I'm the good-guy now, right?

Yes, now get on stage!  

Dunnn! Dun! Dun!

Why are you taking so long?! Get on stage!

Sorry, I am making up some amazing lines which will be worth the wait, plus scenes as well. 


(This is an analogy of how we are feeling right now!)

By the way, the reason that I am using Layland is obvious, he has to be the good-guy now, well, he was the figure in the spoiler/not-spoiler, of course because it is a guy and can't be Val. 

Edited by Alpha 360
"Kouston, we have several problems, but that doesn't matter so we want to continue on with the mission."
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K Cubed sounds pretty sweet... But if you're teasing that, there can't be more than another ten - twenty chapters left in Whispers! The trailer looks ominous though. Evil Edgas or old Edgas vs evil? For some reason that trailer reminded me of the trailer for Logan. Something in the dry, dusty, old imagery.

Edited by vsully
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  • 3 weeks later...
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