Wailing Prophets, Screaming Ministers

The Cold Woods beckon, and Spider-Oracles scream between the blackened boughs.

Crowning their heads with soft pinky-black, their flesh tags quiver. Their spindle-legs rise and arc down to the ground, scythe-blading into the earth. They cry constantly, interminably, and their long, long, thin arms are raised to the sky, to the stars, fingers splayed open as if to receive the rain that never comes for them. They can hear the burning flames above them, you see, though the fires make no noise out in the void. The Wailing Prophets are something like spiders of course, but totally pitiable and pathetic. Their bodies lie flat on the ground, sinking into the muck as though their legs cannot support their weight. They can't, not with the melancholy dragging them down.

They hear the burning flames of stars, up high in the vast darkness, and they feel the sorrows of them. Bright flickering flames constantly born to die crushed and pulverised by that terrible black ocean of night. The deaths of those distant flames allow us to live, as they fall tumbling down to the world below, and the Wailing Prophets know this better than anyone. They abhor the soft rain of the star-corpses, and thus they have fled to the Hollow Woods, where the stars shine but softly, where the trees shelter them from the death and deluge, at least a little.

They have four pairs of eyes, as all spiders do, though their eyes have seen the blazing hearts of stars, and see things other than what we do. They see the ghosts of pasts that now are not; the are-nots of futures yet to happen, the guttering flames of distant desires, even as they are forgotten; the dark stinking mires of regrets that pool and puddle at our feet. They can't see you, only what you aren't. They see you as the old man who has finally reached his destination, only to be too old to ever enjoy it, relegated to watching the youth squandering what it is you treasured so much, so long ago. They see you at your nadir, when all the weights of the world coiled their chains beneath your flesh and smashed you against the dirt. They see only what we aren't, what we don't possess; just as they see the falling motes of slain stars tumble down from the sky to where they may once have lived happy as a flame dancing across the world, but now lie still and cold. They see only suffering, and they feel the slow steady rain of celestial slaughter, and so they scream.

They scream for the injustices of earth, as they are in heaven.

Screamining Ministers they are called, for they scream of the stars, of desperate desires and dreadful despairs. You may untangle some small mote of wisdom from their sadness if you are wise enough to hear beyond the wailing, and brave enough to stomach it. Small secrets slip out along with the cries; where your deep desires may be found, or how to achieve them, how to release yourself of some old wound, of what may yet occur. Those that hear these things rarely realise what it is they hear, and only a blessed few ever leave with what they want.

Their congregation always surrounds them, but never approaches too closely. Whisper-Nixies desperate to claim such memories as those of stars; Fading Men who wish to hear the sorrows of others to fill the hollows inside themselves, that they do not disappear as smoke on the wind; and humans who wish to hear of the fulfillment of their desires and the undoings of their regrets. No-one ever leaves happy, if they leave at all. Some cannot help but succumb to the same despair as the Ministers. Some greedily try to eat the eyes of the Prophets to gain their special sight; and go mad on discovering the rumors are all too true.

If you wish to see what they see, despite the warnings, despite the screaming and wailing and gnashing of fangs, or if you seek their meat for other occult purposes; the Screaming Minister will not fight you. Even as you carve the eyes from its head, even as its guts pour from the case of its abdomen, even as its flesh is rent and torn about it under the cold steel bite of your blade, it will not fight back or beg for mercies. Death for them, is normality, what is to be expected. It is all they see.

And the Cold Woods beckon.

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