I am a Gaum. If you don't know what that means, then in all likelihood you don't need to know. But you seem so earnest in your curiosity. I might as well explain it.
It's simple. I am a monster. A beast of evil company. That reprehensible thing that is the object of revulsion for those who dwell in the light. The one who delights in the suffering of the innocent. Usually the one who causes it.
Well. In my case, little of this is really true. I have done nothing to warrant being called Monster. No one from the light has had any chance to revolt at my hideous countenance. I have witnessed no suffering. How may I delight in it? I've certainly caused none.
I do keep evil company. That is a fact. This is difficult to avoid when you are born a Gaum. It is an evil world.
I am hideous. This is also difficult to avoid. Surely if a light-dweller were to cast their light upon me... hah hah...
Affection is not my destiny.
Still, I find it difficult to accept fully what I know to be unavoidable. I am a monster. There is no other course.
Yet I know myself to be different. Perhaps this is on account of my inexperience. Perhaps it is simply my youth. Perhaps it is because I am alone.
The others do not speak to themselves. In my solitude I find solace in conjuring companions to hear me out. They listen to the ramblings of a young neophyte. They speak not a word. Still, they direct me to further my ramblings. The curiosity of an imaginary companion. Does this belie an impurity in me? Am I insane?
I have been trapped in the shadowy passages of this damned castle for too long. I long to return to the comfort of the Turned Worlds. There I have no need for ramblings. I would have tangible companions. Mired in groupthink, I would bury my thoughts beneath an ocean of subservience.
Subservience. This is why I am alone in the first place. We all must assume our posts in such places as this castle. Anyplace where the tendons binding the Turned and the Upright are strong and well dispersed. Intruders must perish. The Pendants must be found. It is commanded that these places must have a Gaum present to ensure that the Evil One's ends are achieved.
Why must my post be established in such a deserted and pointless place? Why did I have to grow old enough? Why couldn't I simply have died a whelp? In death there is the greatest darkness. In darkness there is stillness. Stillness. Stillness.
I need to move. This motionless palaver with the ghosts in my mind is leading me nowhere useful.
My claws make no sound as they usher my long frame along the stone corridors. My abdomen, menacing in its slenderness but somehow housing a full system of organs, sways little and hovers inches from the floor. A pale carpet made black by the shadows. I imagine my black eyes gliding through the darkness. Ebony gems submerged in the inky air that rules this place. They do not bob or sway. They simply slide forward, searching for the purpose that the Evil One has determined for them. Their victims would not see them before they perish. They are silent sentinels that serve my claws with information.
It is the claws that are masters here.
I hear a sound. I stop. My heart beats its flattened Gaumy rhythm a little faster. Soon I will be called Monster.
The masters take me quickly to one of the outer halls. The servants shall do their work without question. It is the coming of light-dwellers to this miserable place that will steel my mental faculties and make perfect my existence. It is their deaths that will lend sense to my purpose. I will yield to the subservience that is my destiny.
There is light in the room ahead. I enter, careful not to allow the light to touch me. The sentinels behold them now, climbing the staircase at the far end of this outermost hall. A trio of humans. Not dangerous. They will be a trivial group to dispatch. All the better. Their complete innocence will make my purpose all the more pure. I am a monster.
They are a family. The father is old. He carries the torch that lights their way. His hair is messy and thick along the sides of his wide face. His chin is bare. The hat he wears is too tall. I find him repulsive.
As foolish as the man appears, his wife is easily the more innocent. She is here only because he brought her. She trusts him too much. He leads her to her death. She wears her hair up in a thing that resembles the eggsacks of the Great Worms. Scaled down, of course. This is no Great Worm that wears this dress embroidered with flowers of every color. Hmm. Her face is nearly as fat as a Worm. She is disgusting.
The third is their daughter. She is in her late adolescence. She is interesting. She wears a dress as black as my eyes. Her hair is as dark as the air through which it flows. Her face is a delicate thing. It is slender and easily broken. Yet, I detect a determination that defies her enemies' power to break it. I cannot break it. I am powerless.
O sweet disillusion
That I, a Gaum of swale, I am by riddle rendered swain
A Gaumy swain in truth for to deny would but constrain
But for emotion newly felt, wherein to swell I'm fully fain
Is denial unfair in full? Is it constraint to wane?
O blackened spirit! Wherefore ask the truth of swage and swell
When hordes and worlds and death itself in question surely tell
That acts of swell fall to upright and swage does fall to darkened fell?
If bear ye lust for newfound loft, then shed this swaly shell!
But I cannot. No more can I break my own bonds of physical form than I can break her jaw from its rightful place. Through the link from eye to claw, the girl has made the master her slave. I am powerless to achieve my purpose. And I am powerless to shift my purpose. Surely the girl would look upon me and despair. And I would find a new form of self-revulsion. This cannot be.
I make my escape as silently as I came. I am careful not to allow the light-dwellers to witness my departure. They must not know my presence.
I choose passages at random. I care nothing for my destination. I lose my way. I have not been in this part of the castle before. I will move until I hear no more sound. Then I shall make my departure. They shall not discover me.
I stop. I am in silence. Yet my heart beats. I cannot silence my heart.
I shut my eyes. I seek the fibers that bind the Turned Worlds and the Upright. They are strong here. I guide my spirit toward them. The ether pulses. I ignore it. I drift away into the Turned Worlds, but I cannot control myself. The ether pulses. I resist. Stillness. Stillness. But there is no stillness. The ether pulses, and I am catapulted through the worlds between the worlds. I feel fear. Is this the justice of the Evil One?
I open my eyes. I crouch before an altar in a dim stone room. Beyond the altar is an abyss of impenetrable depth. I would cast myself into this abyss but for the object that hovers above the altar. It draws me near. I recognize its crescent shape from the tales of my father. A crescent moon of stained glass, an iridescent codex of color-formation. It is one of the three Godly Pendants, lost from the kingdom of the Light in ages only the Light and the Evil One still know.
How did I come upon this place? I have searched the reaches surrounding my post with the greatest care. No corner, however obscure, could have escaped my wanderings.
I am a fool. It did escape me. The girl's power drove me into places I did not know. I avoided parts of the castle. Did I reserve such places of mystery by subconscious action? Was it by intervention on the part of the pendant that it was not found? Surely the pendant was itself responsible for my arrival here as I attempted to fly to the Turned Worlds. Why would it hide itself for so long only to summon me now?
No more questions. I take the pendant's glittering chain delicately between two nails of my left claw. I guide the chain over my head and it nests itself around my neck. I feel powerful and powerless. The pendant is an artifact of greatness, but can I wield its greatness?
The chain tingles upon my neck. I shift the pendant. The tingling ceases. I am content. The tingling begins again. I shift. It ceases. It begins again.
Why does the Evil One desire this thing?
~ ~ ~
The tingling on my neck awoke me. It turned out that this tingling was my ten month old son sleeping next to me, tickling me with his outstretched fingers. What he was dreaming about, I can only guess at.
Not all of this post came directly from my dream. I elaborated on a lot of the musings of the Gaum, who is actually a character that has appeared in my dreams before. In fact, I wasn't aware of the Gaum being the protagonist here until after waking. Another fabrication. Aside from this, most of this is intact directly from the ether. In the actual dream, I spent more time watching the family as they explored the castle, and I did not actually feel any malicious intentions toward them. These are all things that I came up with later.
The little poem in the middle was not in the dream. This is something I wrote many years ago and have now refurbished with slightly different language and rhythm. I have tried to make it as good as possible, but I'm not exactly Shakespeare.
As far as I can remember, the girl looked a little like Krysten Ritter or Laura Donnelly or Kate Micucci or someone in that broad category of person.