The Summoning

The Summoning - jar of moles

#picturefiction #flashfiction

 Lord Armitage glided down the stone steps to the cellar of Armitage castle. The hem of his black velvet robe swept the ancient dust from the steps as he descended. The robe was embroidered in eldritch symbols with threads of precious and rare metals. If one were to stare at the designs they would seem to shift and move as the viewer struggled to bring sense to the design. His seamstress had committed suicide soon after finishing the garment, screaming about the ‘great writhing ones’ as she flung herself from the cliff.

Clutched in his hands like a precious heirloom was a large jar. The jar appeared black in the dim light but was a deep red. It was filled with blood collected from a hundred virgins. Lord Armitage had spent a great deal of money purchasing the silence of the donors but even if it had taken all of his wealth he counted the cost as reasonable.

Lord Armitage reached the basement and crossed to the center where an enormous circle filled with writhing designs and words of languages long dead before man evolved awaited him. He placed the jar in the center of the circle and withdrew to light the thirteen green-black tapers spaced around the circle’s perimeter.

A lectern, carved from black granite stood beside the circle. Lord Armitage opened the moldy, scarred leather tome that rested there and read the words he had spent his entire life learning to decipher.

The alien language twisted his throat and pained his tongue but he persevered. As each guttural, hissing phrase passed his lips he could feel the room become heavier with power and immanence, not of the divine but of something from outside the sane reality of his world.

He completed the incantation with an ear splitting shriek that tore the lining of his throat. The smell of brimstone and ozone filled the air. A flash of dark light momentarily blinded him. When his vision cleared, the blood had disappeared. The jar was not empty. Within the jar something small and black had replaced the vital fluid.

Lord Armitage stared around the cellar in confusion. Where was the demon he had summoned? The blood was gone and there should have been a powerful creature of the outer dark trapped in the circle to serve him.

“Bloody hell,” he said.  His voice was hoarse..

The jar rattled against the stone floor.

Lord Armitage walked to the edge of the circle and knelt. He peered at the jar across the lines of the protective circle.

A small form unfolded itself within the jar and stood up. It was no more than an two inches tall with two stubby arms and legs. Each finger and toe was punctuated by a short pointed claw.  Its body was covered with coarse black fur. Lord Armitage squeezed his eyes shut and looked again. The creature’s head and face looked like nothing more than a common garden mole.

“What in the hell are you doing in the jar?”

“You summoned me mortal.” The mole’s voice was high pitched and, although muffled by the sealed glass jar, was perfectly understandable.

Lord Armitage jerked backward and landed on his butt.

“You’ve got to be kidding me. You speak?”

“Of course I speak, fool. Name the service you demand of me.”

“No,” Lord Armitage said. “I summoned a great force, a creature of chaos and absolute power to do my bidding. You are a tiny mole.”

“Judge me not by this form, I am mighty.”

Lord Armitage brayed laughter. “You’re two inches high and stuck in a gallon mason jar. Even your voice is the antithesis of powerful. No. You are going to stay in that jar until I recover and figure out how to send you back to whatever celestial pet shop I pulled you from.”

“Mortal you shall rue the day you summoned me. I will be avenged upon you.”

Lord Armitage cackled again and stood.

“I will be avenged upon you,” he said in a squeaky imitation of the mole.

With a wheezing chuckle he turned and left the basement.

Lord Armitage retired to his quarters and after tossing his ceremonial robe over a chair collapsed onto his bed. He was asleep almost instantly.

When Lord Armitage awoke the sun was low in his window. He pulled the satin rope beside the bed and in a matter of minutes his manservant, Hugo, entered the room.

“How long?” His voice was still rough but the pain he had felt was absent.

“Two days my lord. I have looked in on you constantly but your sleep was like that of the dead.”

Lord Armitage groaned. “Draw me a bath, Hugo.”

“Of course my lord. How did your summoning go if I may be so bold?”

Lord Armitage sat bolt upright. The summoning, how could he have forgotten.

“Draw the bath. I have to check on the cellar.”

He leapt from the bed and ran down the many staircases to the cellar.

The tapers had long burned down but the cellar boasted the latest in electric lighting and with a flick of a switch, Lord Armitage brought the light of day to the dark pit.

He skidded to a halt beside the circle and knelt down to peer at the jar which still stood in the circle.

A ball of fur was curled in the center of the jar. As Lord Armitage stared, it uncurled and two identical mole creatures stood up.

“Behold mortal, I am mighty,” both moles spoke in tandem in identical squeaky voices.

Lord Armitage snorted laughter, unable to contain himself in his reactions to the absurd creature.

“Oh you are truly awesome, little mole. You’re twice the demon you used to be.”

“Suffer! You shall suffer like no other,” they squeaked.

“Stay strong little moles. I will find the incantation to return you.”

“Crush! Rend! You shall suffer.”

The lordly mage chuckled and left the cellar once more. He had a bath to take and much study to perform.

Seven long days later, Lord Armitage had found the proper spell in the grimoire and had laboriously translated it; he was ready.

Clad in his robe and armed with a fresh supply of candles, Lord Armitage strode down the cellar steps.

“Prepare to return from whence you came mole,” he said.

Lord Armitage stopped dead in his tracks as he reached the magic circle. The jar was totally black. He leaned down to see better and could make out dozens, scores, possibly hundreds of black furred shapes writhing within the jar.

A deafening peal of laughter rang out in the cellar. It was the same high pitched voice of the mole but amplified a hundredfold.

“Behold my might mortal.”

The shapes in the jar began to writhe faster and more vigorously. Lord Armitage heard a sound like a lot chittering scratch; it was the sound of glass straining beyond its breaking point.

As he watched the glass jar exploded. Shards of glass flew across the intervening distance and drove into his flesh like rocket propelled knives. Lord Armitage screamed in pain.

“Vengeance is mine,” bellowed the moles.

The tiny bodies in their every increasing multitude flowed across the circle and over the prostate body of Lord Armitage. Thousands of tiny claws dug into his flesh while maniacal laughter filled his ears.

The last thing Lord Armitage heard was, “I am mighty.”