The Fellowship of Rot (Poetry)

To find herbs for potion crafting,
I always venture into the woods alone,
And always at night, to avoid detection
By the many who wish humanity ill

Among fern trees with moss-encrusted trunks,
The forest has so many hidden paths,
And anyone who knows them can disappear at will,
To seek medicinal plants in secret places

I’ve never needed strength, any power of force;
What mattered most was that I was brave enough
To do what others couldn’t do,
Or wouldn’t dare try

The night has long since turned black and grey,
With only starlight peeking through the trees
My footsteps leave behind the tracks I made,
But no longer do my steps crunch in the leaves;
Now the only thing making noise
Is a quiet sound that creeps into the air,
A whispering voice from another plane of space

I can smell what wafts off her body;
Her foul stench is seeping into my pores,
Like smoke from burning coal
That chokes out all the air around her

I hold my breath and lie down between bushes,
Where my body becomes the brush and weeds;
My hands are trembling uncontrollably now,
As I wait for her evil presence to fade away
Into oblivion, like smoke from burnt paper

The witch appears before my weary gaze
In all her twisted majesty and grace;
I’ve been discovered by the queen of rot,
Who glides upon a bed of crimson moss

I have felt this malevolent presence before,
A creature from a dark and dreadful past,
When a couple of daring experiments
Pried open the fabric of time and space:
She had been waiting for me down there,
Or for anyone who would enter her domain

I stare back at the darkness of her pupils,
Which shine with madness and malice untold
Then comes a flash of light as time resumes
From a split that seemed eternal before

The witch’s fluid form flows from tree to tree,
While she spreads forth tendrils from her frame
Her rotting limbs grow in length and number,
They burst outward into countless tentacles,
Each tearing off her outermost hide,
Leaving her flesh exposed like a dead snake’s,
To pull everything that they sense toward her core

I turn away in horror, unable to watch
I feel my heart racing, as my head begins spinning
My eyes grow wet, a lump raises to my throat
I know the witch has come to collect on what I owe

The leaves of the bushes are falling to the ground,
All around me there is death
As if someone had poured salt on the earth

Soon I feel the witch’s pull on the strands of time,
Trapping every living being under her spell;
Each second becomes one frozen in amber,
So nobody can run away from that which waits
In a void filled only with nothingness and hate

My heart beats wildly,
My lungs begin gasping in the dried air,
Then my eyes meet her dark red ones;
I am not immune to that malevolent stare,
As she glares into my mind and steals my will

A brilliant beam shoots out of the witch’s eyes,
Through the bushes I was hiding in
I use the same energy crackling through me
To fire back a bolt from my hands
That lances my enemy’s heart,
But it doesn’t even faze her:
She flows to the side and behind a tree,
Leaving behind a smoky trail

I run home as fast as my legs can carry me
And lock myself inside my bedroom
I want away from that terrible presence,
But I can’t shake her from my brain:
No matter how hard I try, her malice lingers on;
Even after closing my eyes,
She’s staring into them still

I take refuge within a bottle of liquid potion
To keep the witch’s rot from spreading,
Until I can figure out a brew
That could remove her curse,
But I’ll need some new herbs if I am to brew
Such a powerful magical concoction

I’ve never been a normal human,
But the witch’s essence can corrupt anyone,
Turning them into tormentors of mankind,
So my only hope of escaping
This vile presence
Is through alchemy

The ingredients for the brew are hard to find;
It will take a lot of time and preparation
To extract enough components
From the rare flora found in the nearby forest,
But I already feel the fever setting in:
I’m going to burn out, soon the effects
Will consume my very soul, if not my mind

It is well known, by people all around,
That once the poison takes hold of your veins,
You can never leave its grip again
Your body becomes restless, your bones creak,
And you start to feel an unquenchable thirst,
A ravenous hunger that can’t be sated,
Because all that your insides crave is the rot

The girl that you were is now no more
You’re becoming a creature
That has no right to walk among mankind;
You will become one that will bring
Instead of life and joy, chaos and death

I need to return to being myself,
Back to a person who deserves
To breathe the fresh, clean air,
Who lives and loves for the common good

I have to hurry and gather
All the ingredients I need
For a potion potent and strong;
Without them the poison’s effects can spread
Into every corner of humanity

But how do I get my hands on these
Strange plants, that grow nowhere near
My hometown, deep in the woodlands?
There must be something else
That can be used as a catalyst,
Something I might have seen
On one of my trips out into
The night-shrouded forest

I wake up on the forest floor
With no knowledge of how I have come here
Little by little I begin to remember:
I was searching for the rare ingredients
That would take me ages to find,
So I could slow down the poison in my blood,
But the witch’s venomous touch has spread
Deep into my brain, poisoning me;
Every thought I’ve ever held
Now feels tainted with a tinge of evil,
And everything I was before seems like an act,
The performance a marionette would play

All that remains is the witch,
A shadow that floats over me;
She haunts my every waking thought
As my body aches and burns

As the corruption slowly overtakes my senses,
All the things that made me happy,
Or made me laugh out loud,
Suddenly don’t mean anything to me;
All that remains of what made my life worth living
Are just a series of meaningless memories:
Like the first day I saw a flower bloom,
Or the day when my brother came over
And helped me plant my own tree in our garden
Before he disappeared into thin air,
Because he went out hunting
And never returned

In a small hut with smoke curling above,
On a moonlit winter night when snowflakes fell
From an icy sky, in my mother’s lap,
There were two faces that were dear to me,
Two smiling, kind faces which would say “We know,”
If someone tried asking them to understand

I can still move, I can think clearly,
But my hands are no longer my own:
They belong to another entity
Who desires the world’s destruction and pain,
And she wants me as her willing slave
To turn the whole human race
Into creatures of the night
That crave bloodshed and decay

I can hear the whispers in my head:
She says she is the queen,
The mistress of darkness,
Of chaos, despair and ruin;
All that lives has no choice
But to bow to her will
And do her biddings,
Or be consumed

The voices in my mind pray to this evil queen:
“Please destroy this town and all it contains,
Make them suffer until their end”
Then she laughs and tells me:
“Your suffering shall continue to increase,
For the town I wish you to destroy
Is the only thing keeping you alive”

I scream in rage and anguish:
“No more!”
I refuse to submit to the witch’s wicked plot;
I’ll fight back and rid myself of her curse at last,
Then I’ll burn away all the poisons inside my heart

Everything starts going black around me,
A darkness seeping through from all directions;
The witch’s voice speaks into my brain,
Making the sounds echo in an endless loop:

“I am a servant of Chaos,
The mistress of darkness,
The keeper of pain and decay
You must serve me or you’ll die”

My cries echo in empty air; I’m trapped
Between a monster of the dark and me;
I am the creature that was once myself,
But it has become nothing more than a beast

As I lose myself into the shadows,
A darkness deeper and darker grows;
All that I can see now is her evil,
My eyes see all things as they really were:
The world appears dark, twisted,
Strange, surreal, and ugly
All of the living beings I come across
Are grotesque, unnatural, and vile

My body feels like fire,
My mind screams in terror
As I trudge my way back to town
So I can hide among my kin

If only I could be strong and resist,
Then my parents and brother,
Who cared so deeply about me,
Would still live on in my heart,
As precious as stone, forever

If my soul is fated to burn away,
At least I want to tell of my transformation,
To show the world what evil lurks within,
But the bright faces that used to welcome me,
That greeted me every time I walked into the city,
Look at me as if I am a stranger;
I can tell that they smell my rottenness,
That from now on I will only spread decay,
And they can’t stand being near such filth;
They won’t be fooled by my pretty smile any longer,
For my mind is corrupted beyond salvation

The girl who I was has been destroyed,
She has burned and rotted like an ancient log;
Her remains have turned the entire forest black,
And all that is left of me is my rotten core

I feel like an imposter:
My essence has transformed and grown stronger,
And so have her dark powers
Which are much too great to oppose,
So I have to turn myself away
From my past self

My old friends accept me into their homes,
But they make the mistake of touching my skin:
My corruption spreads through their pores
Until they change as well, into beings like myself

Their minds and bodies twist
Into beasts with insatiable appetites,
But my body doesn’t burn as brightly as theirs:
I have the ability to control my new instincts,
So as long as I stay away from these fiends,
I won’t lose control of the poison in me

I must swallow my sorrow,
Bear this suffering;
It is a bittersweet taste,
This poison of rot

Some of the townsfolk manage to flee,
But my newly rotten friends get the rest of them;
The villagers have all gone to the town square,
There are a lot more people there than I thought;
They stand silently in a circle, with their heads down,
And look up when they see that I arrived

The crowd make way, opening a path for me to enter
As my feet carry out the witch’s cruel commands;
My infection now flows through their brains,
And they became a part of me,
And me of them

The world around me
Has turned dark and twisted;
All life now resembles
What it always looked like to the witch:
Rotting logs,
Toxic sludge and poisonous flowers,
Critters covered with scales,
Venomous fish,
Infected creatures that want to devour the world,
And all the life upon it

I am no more than the evil
Who took away the brother that I once knew;
The rot is consuming me,
My body shakes and my mind grows dim
As the last vestiges of reason fade away
In the depths of this corruption that has overcome
The girl whom my brother had always protected;
He said I should never have taken the path
That leads into this dark abyss,
Yet now there’s nowhere else
For him and me to turn
But down the hole
Where all our loved ones
Vanished from our lives

My life becomes a void
Where only emptiness and hate remain:
An eternity without the sun’s rays,
An infinite expanse without a star in sight;
No matter where I run, she is waiting there,
Sitting upon the throne that was once empty

I was once merely the girl from town
That concocted beneficial potions,
Dabbling in dark magic without considering
The havoc that could be wreaked;
Now I’m a rotten creature that no human
Would ever look upon and be pleased to know,
And all I’ve done to reach this point of insanity
Is to carry on with a desperate need to keep living,
When my existence meant nothing
Except as a catalyst for death and misery

The girl that you see before your eyes
May seem perfectly normal, to most of the world:
A sweet-natured maiden
Who is a healer and protector of the land,
An idealized portrait that can’t possibly
Appear as twisted and deformed
As my own visage

Her beauty may be perfect,
But she still hides her true self:
An undead creature
With an unending craving to destroy the light of life,
To suck out all goodness from its victim’s soul;
She’s a harbinger of doom
For any sentient being
Who would come across her touch

All life will end as if it were the final curtain call
For the farce that we have all watched,
And I am just the stagehand standing at attention
In front of a curtain that conceals my mistress’ true face;
A stagehand who will do whatever it takes
To see her role played
As she brings the performance
That She has spent centuries crafting:
The perfect ending to this tragic story
Of our souls being trapped
Within a body made to decay

All that I am now, the witch made manifest
In the form that best suits her purpose; a fiend
Who preys upon the weakest-hearted souls,
That will not even fight, as if they knew
The outcome was certain from the start
As a part of this grand design
That is so clearly laid out,
So beautifully designed
To lead to Her ultimate conclusion

We’re in her domain now,
All of us wretches are her playthings,
And we’re her instruments of torture
That will roam throughout this land

The witch only wants a single thing:
To spread corruption across all creation,
To use my blood, her seed,
To sow evil into every sentient creature
Until her enemies are wiped out, forever;
This world will have been completely purified,
From those whose very presence is distasteful to her

It’s a spiral downward of pain and fear;
There can’t be peace for someone carrying
Such evil within their heart,
There is no way back,
No escape,
Not in life, nor afterlife,
Nothing to save one who’s lost her mind

I cannot escape this destiny of mine,
Our suffering is part of Her grand design;
If that witch is the queen of chaos, so be it
Let the darkness run through my veins

I am no longer afraid;
This is how I must walk forward,
And I won’t turn away;
This isn’t the life that my parents or brother chose,
Or the life that my friends expected from me,
But what I deserve after all these terrible years
That have taken such an awful toll
On my fragile soul

‘The Fellowship of Rot’ by Jon Ureña

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