The Real Dark Powers

Diane Duane's Wizards series meets H. P. Lovecraft and his Mythos: if there is a Speech, why not a Dark Speech? And H. P. L.'s languages of R'lyeh would be a good one. (Cthulhu fthagn!)

"How would you describe insanity in the Speech?" a boy was wonnerin'.

"You can't," an older wizard told him–I knew they were wizards, an' White wizards, as wal, by Thet very question, an' because I knew Thet elder. "Insanity–real insanity–is too rare for that. Life-forms can be insane, but it's never put in a Name, and there are so few truly insane events–insane from every perspective–that we don't need it."

"That's weird. I mean, we can describe evil, and chaos, and pain–and those are worse than madness! Yet you seem . . . afraid of that question, Tom." A girl, this time.

"That, Nita, is because I've seen what happens when people think too hard about that question! It's been the cause of a lot of problems. I have a . . . well, I guess he's a friend, because he's not actually an enemy, thank the Powers That Be! But he–he knows why we don't have that word in the Speech. He is a sorcerer, and, like all sorcerers, he can't use the Speech."

"Then how does he do magic?"

"He uses a language in which every word expresses insanity–the Black Speech, which is even older then ours. Yes, older! It was invented by things that aren't sane, before sanity meant anything. Only mad, Dark things and warped horrors use it, and the few crazed nihilists who pray to the Outer Gods and the Great Old Ones."

I laughed. "Gnho ghiu X nazgreh oup?" (What one I than am?)

An', yes, I knaow thet the grammar o' the Dark Speech es atrocious. So?

"Please speak English, Wilbur, okay?"

I sighed. "Ef yew like, Tom. Thaough why I 'ave naw clue, as I kin't pronaounce et worth a bloody tinker's damn."

"Because, I'd rather not have to translate a language that gives me headaches just to hear! Anyway, it's a language that could cause amazing damage if pronounced wrong–or right–and I'm not sure if any throat used to the Speech of Light could pronounce it safely."


He smiled slightly. "Where's your brother, by the way?"

"My brawther? Oh, he's en the locawll woods, gittin' some rest. Et's a lawng way from Dunwich, after awll, but yer the nearest White wizard I knaow, an' there's sinister thin's afoot. Father says thet the Lone Paower es awn Earth, yew see–ur shaould I say an Evil fragment o' thet Lone? Thet 'Un es a nasty piece o' work–an' he did et wit'aout any help, either!"

"Who do you mean by 'Father'?" the boy asked. "I mean, it sounds like one of the Powers That Be, but I thought you didn't obey them . . ?"

"He means it literally, Kit–Wilbur, here, is a son of an Outer God, a Power older than any Power that formed our multiverse."

I nawdded. "There are Thin's awn the edges o' reawllity, an' They dun't like this new-fangled sanity. My father es 'un o' them, an' a paowerful 'un, but nawt as malevolent as most. For Yog- Sothoth es the Key and the Gate, the Watcher that keeps the universes separate. My mother's father was very intint awn openin' up the Portawlls Thet kept the universes sane en stayin' closed. He wanted tew open up the Gates o' Hell an' let the demuns loose. My twin an' me were awl he gawt fer his traoubles, thaough–he didn't reawlly unnerstand what he was doin'. I tried tew open them myself, fer the next few years, but I awllmost gawt myself killed, an' after thet I stawped. Fawnny ol' thin', life." I frowned. "But this es irrelevant. The Lone 'Un es comin', an' yew lawt better git tew work."

"What should we do? What does It want this time, do you know?"

"et wants many thin's. What et wants here, though, es jest tew see suthin': the Tomb o' Nephren-Ka, the Black Pharaoh. Et es said thet his tomb es covered en paintin's o' the future, but only one day en the future es ever awllowed ter be seen–the priests o' Nyarlathotep make sure o' Thet. Prophecy es hard tew come by, an' even the history o' littawl ol' Egypt es a paowerful thin' ter have."

"Prophecy isn't that rare!" Tom said.

"The Tomb o' Nephren-Ka es perfectly accurate, Tom. I'd rather nawt think o' the implications o' thet, waould yew?"

"And you know this how?"

"I've been there."

"Ah. Great–just great. Anything else He's after?"

"Hmm? Probably a lawt o' thin's, but my father says thet 'un's the worst."

They teleported tew Egypt surprisin'ly fast an' wal, I thaought, fer magi thet have ter use the young Tongue o' Light.

"Well, here we are–exactly where you said the entrance is. Now what?"

"Naow we git inside, o' caourse."

An' I grabbed an ancient-lookin' door thet'd been hidden by the sands. Et opened amazin'ly easily, an' we went in.

"See?" I said. "This es what happens when people are given the gift o' prophecy. An' et gits warse, tew, believe me."

"He foresaw his own death?" asked Kit. "How much worse can it get?"

"Far, far worse," said a voice behind us.

I baowed. "Lone 'Un, yew make yer move et last. But we're nawt the only 'uns 'ere, as yew wal knaow, an' yew kin't See wit'aout his permission."

"I know that, farspawn. He will give it."

"Will yew?" I asked.

Yet another person appeared–an Arab, 'un o' the priests o' the Tomb. "Why shouldn't I, mem sahib?" he replied.

I shook my head. "He'll destroy et as sewn as he's seen et, yew knaow, fer fear thet another o' the Paowers thet Be will try the same thin.' An' thet es sacrilege, as yew wal knaow! Fer Nyarlathotep, Hew Es the Mind o' Azathoth, Mighty Messenger, Three-Lobbed Burnin' Eye, did commission this! Waould yew make Nyarlathotep angry? Waould yew see the destruction o' the great Work o' the Dark Man, an' o' the Black Pharaoh Nephren-Ka?"

His eyes hardened, an' he turned awn the Lone 'Un. "Get ye gone, devil! I'll have no injury to the Great Work! Get gone, all of you!"

I laughed bitterly. "Be careful, Keeper. Thet 'un es tricky. I suggest you let naw one enter en the future, hmm? Knives en backs are good thin's, sometimes. But yew awl knew thet, didn't yew?"

He nawdded. "I had Seen it, aye. Now go!"

We went.