The Ghouls of the Forsaken Desert

Phillip A. Ellis

Under a dying sun as dull as the bubble of last blood that swells and drops from the lips of a dying child, as a ruby falls from the blackening hands of a tomb-rotted grave robber, the final continent lies cowed by a heavy burthen of forgotten dreams and memories. Deep within its hinterlands, far from the soughing seas and the aged foresties, there lies a desert land shrouded by wind-woven sands and by the slowly emerging night.

From deep tunnels in primaeval ridges of sand-blasted basalt (which were once mighty mountains, long before the relentless onslaught of unfettered time had worn them away almost to nothingness), ghouls emerge into the rubicund night of the setting sun. For although they hate the sun's light, with an unholy intensity unknown among the crofters of Cincor, or among the tatterdemalions of Ummaos, they will venture out beneath the louring sunset, and no more than this. And as the sun sets, the ghouls arise as one with ancient maledictions and malevolent imprecations, calling upon its imminent extinguishment and upon the onset of eternal night, and so they issue forth from their tunnels in columns like unto the smoke tendrils from a freshly extinguished taper.

They look upon the deepening gloom with silent eyes. They look into the western skies, hissing sibilant songs no longer than the acrid sirocco that caresses the heat-embraced sands of the forsaken desert. They await the night which will come forth upon silent, nigrescent wings. They await especially for the even's flash — as emerald as the rotted flesh of a freshly drowned corpse, or as verdant as the accursed emeralds which lie abandoned in time-forgotten fanes and which glimmer balefully with evil intent — which heralds the time when they will walk forth upon the earth like unto men in form, like unto demons in spirit.

The night calls them forth, feeding their fierce and implacable hatred of the guttering sun. It promises that blessed time when all will be night, and the sun will be snuffed as a waxen taper after a night's steady burning, and when ghouls alone will walk upon the earth where once was life, rejoicing forevermore in their infinitely cold inheritance.

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