Grim, fell and faceless, they speak to me in the language of the abyss, timeless, pitiless, and they hold me securely in their wicked talons, refraining from violence for reasons I cannot imagine.
Here, the sea is not caressed by the sun, and birds do not soar over peaceful lands. Here, the creatures neither live nor die, and where darkness lives they flourish.
I flop like a snared fish in their spiny grips, but they only continue to whisper silently in my ears with voices like forgotten poetry, like ink dripping from a fountain pen, like blood from a fresh wound.
These gargoyles are disturbingly tall and thin, a flock of four mostly obscured by the shadows they create with their wings. Tattered, slick and cold. I feel frigid numbness seeping into my heart as they leech warmth from the very fibers of my being, trying to quell a hunger that can never be subdued.
I try to understand them, but my mind is cracking under their insane probing, their wordless language of limitless horror.
Withering trees dance to music only they can hear, and a wet snow begins to rain from storm clouds in a sky pierced by mountains of diamond.
The gargoyles do not speak of Hell or Heaven or Earth.
They simply ask me what I am, and why I glow when they do not, which are questions I cannot answer, because this is a dream. A nightmare.
The shadows often soothe, but not this time.
Cradled, stifled, I grab the bony tip of one of the gargoyle's wings, and yank hard. They only pull my wrist back, still rasping questions eternally asked.
Long, whippy tails tipped with sharp razored barbs flick back and forth across the unprotected flesh of my sides, threatening to cut. Curved, ram-like horns point toward my face as they pivot their heads downward, tightening viselike grips on my arms. And then they take to the skies with me, caught in the thermals of chaos, surging past perilous mountain peaks and dangling me bait-like towards the creeping, nameless monstrosities that roam this strange land, howling with anticipation, screaming with their souls.
I have never been in this world before and they intend to keep me here until I tell them my secrets. And even that could not guarantee freedom. Theirs was the bitterness of the mourner, the lull of the hypnotist, the ashen melancholy of the philosopher whose hopes are long dead.
But my spirit does not belong to them, these winged denizens of Delirium.
Like a flowing tide the darkness that cocoons me always reaches out to take me from this sunken dreamscape. The funereal flyers grasp feebly, but their claws swipe empty air as I plummet into a portal to a brighter place.
They never get the answers they're searching for.