Inortumo, the sorcerer, called all the men of his castle to the great hall. The sigils that ringed the wall had been covered by a band of violet silk. The immense tapestries were gone. The censers and customary fires were empty, and only the dimness of dusk bled in from the high windows where the arches and pilasters cast long shadows.
In a voice echoing throughout the hall, he said, “Your toil to bring me my one hundred and eleven virgins is complete. Behold the sigil of the Third Circle on the stones, drawn with their blood. Do not stand within the boundary, but along the walls.”
Inortumo’s seven apprentices entered the hall in red robes. They each had a wooden bowl and went among the men. Inortumo said, “Close your eyes. My sorcerers will cover your lids with the mark of blood. When you open them, they will be safe.”
Inortumo ascended the dais. He studied the immense sigil spreading below, head like a bald hawk protruding from his midnight robe. When the apprentices had completed their task, they ascended to form a semicircle behind him. His men crowded the walls – a shadowy throng.
“I have called you here to be armed, with bows strung. Unsheath your swords. Draw your arrows and stand at the ready. I will call the cacodemon. For long years it has taught me. It knows not that I have now discovered the secret of summoning all parts of it. And I have discovered the secret of binding it to this world. When it comes, it will be loose for a brief moment, and then I will be its master. In those moments you must protect me, as you have against the men and beasts of this world. When my ritual is complete, your service to Inortumo will be repaid a hundred fold. The secrets of the cacodemon will grant us the power to plunder all things. Even the kings of Charchagi will be our captives and servants. Your rewards will be limitless, you shall have dominions, powers, treasures, harems, and your seed can found dynasties. What say you?”
The men of Inortumo raised a pleasing cry of thunder. And then the hall fell silent.
Inortumo and his seven apprentices began their chant on the dais. Soon, the surface of the blood began to move and shift like water in a pot. Small bubbles formed as the very blood began to boil, yet still it held its shape in the design of the Sigil of the Third Circle. The stones of the castle floor stirred. The chant of the sorcerers grew until suddenly, Inortumo clanged the square talor-gong behind him. The last echo of the chant dissipated. None of Inortumo’s men dared breathe.
In a frenzy, Inortumo’s seven apprentices discarded their red robes. Naked, they dove onto the floor. They writhed. Their grey flesh reddened as the sigil smeared. In the hall was no other sound than the slap and slide of naked flesh on wet stone.
Teucalas, the archer, turned his head to look at the man next to him. They shared a look of disgust. When Teucalas looked again, the apprentices were huddled together and began moaning. A common tremor shook them, and then slowly, imperceptibly they began to rise. The sigil seemed to somehow raise off the floor, bearing the apprentices.
Their bodies now a mass of confused limbs, torsos, buttocks and heads, seemed to converge and then open until a great head hung suspended in the hall.
The apprentices were no more there. An immense head, upside down, with features of enmity gazed at Inortumo.
Teucalas slowly drew back his nocked arrow, his elbow pushing into another’s belly. Others had pushed their way behind him into the shadows. He stood in the light from a high window, in full view. He did not like that.
Inortumo spoke again in the language of magic. He spoke fast, with hands and robes and fingers making their designs in the air.
And while the great sorcerer chanted the binding spell, the great head began to cackle. The cackle soon roared above the sound of Inortumo’s voice, and then the entire castle shook as if it would rend asunder.
And then the cacodemon fell silent and it wore an awful face that no man has ever seen or can imitate. One eye stared always at Inortumo, who continued his words of binding. The other eye roved about the hall, peering at each of Inortumo’s men in turn. When it glanced upon Teucalas he felt a weight on him as if his armor were for a horse. His legs began to falter until the eye passed on and his strength flowed again.
And still Inortumo continued to chant furiously.
Teucalas said quietly, “Shall we smite it and subdue it so our master may complete the ritual?”
Before anyone near him could answer, a man across the hall shrieked when the loathsome eye fell upon him. The eye burst into flames and flew out towards the man. The throng in the shadows pushed outward and away, falling on each other as the flaming, crackling eye rolled into its prey. In the flash a deluge of flame, acid, poison and lightning shattered into the man who fell back against the silk band upon the wall. Not quite a skeleton, and not quite a fleshful corpse, the charred man slumped to the floor. A green puddle hissed on the stones as yellow vapor roiled up and then was gone.
And still Inortumo continued to chant furiously.
The cacodemon’s eye hole howled forth a foul wind. It uttered a thunderous word from its black blistered lips and then a slimy thing with many legs dripped from the high ceiling to settle into the eye hole. The howling of the eye hole ceased.
But still Inortumo continued to chant furiously.
After a time, the thing in the cacodemon’s eye had spun a cocoon. Shortly thereafter it split blackly and a new eye opened.
And finally Inortumo ceased. His body shook. He sat, legs and robe dangling over the dais. “It is done,” he said. “You are now mine. I seek the learning you have hid from me from the beginning. I must know the forms of Bolachont and the Trembling Moong.”
The cacodemon’s eyes stared at Inortumo with the malice of eternity.
Inortumo continued, “I know I cannot wield your lips and tongue. If you remain silent, I shall never know what I seek. But I will keep you bound forever until you divulge these secrets.”
At this, the Cacodemon bellowed and cackled again. The entire hall shuddered and then a tremor quaked through, splitting through the sigil on the floor, as the blood of the sigil flowed into the crevice and was no more.
Many of the sorcerer’s men began dropping their swords and bows so they could cover their ears. The hostile laugh continued as if erupted anew from lungs and breath that never ceased, like a chorus of voices adding their own separate cackles. And the walls of the castle of Inortumo began to shake free from each other. The high windows fell away, as if their openings could become emptier. The heads of some of Inortumo’s men shook violently and then fell off. Teucalas, seeing this, slid his hands from over his ears to hold his own neck. And then the castle all about them had finally crumbled to rubble.
It was not dusk outside. And Inortumo and the men who still remained with their heads saw the truth. The land about rose in cancerous undulations and malformations. Blood and bone and tittering foulnesses piped into the distance. Instead of the moons and clouds of the sky there was the emptiness of the abyss.
The cacodemon bellowed, “When I felt the chills of your summoning chant tickle my flesh, I built a summoning sigil of my own to bring you and your castle to my hideous realm. Yes, you have summoned me to your castle. But your castle is already here, with me.”
Inortumo cast his eyes beyond the rubble. There was a great design, drawn in the blood of demons across the whole landscape. His castle was at its center. Inortumo wept.
And that is the tale of how Teucalas became banished eternally in the castle of the cacodemon.