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Erebus (Char Elf)
Every facet of humanity has feared the dark, from cave dwelling to modern home we find fear in the places we know the best, where doorways and cupboards seem tranquil and safe in the day, soon become places of infinite dark at night, where our mind plays tricks on us, where we see things that just aren't there. Most adults will deny fear of the dark, but fear of the dark is a natural instinct; most carnivores hunt at night and it is this genetic mechanism that resides in us, keeping us fearful of what we cannot see - but might indeed be there.
And it is most definitely there.
Merrylin wrote a paper on quantum teleportation in the mid 19th century. He was writing about a subject matter that made little sense to his academic peers because the terminology he used did not exist yet - one of the many strange anachronisms of this man. The paper is a testament to the enigma of Thomas and his very existence. But we won't go into this now, perhaps another time. But one paragraph within his paper is quite pertinent - he hypothesised that quantum teleportation could exist as a biological phenomena within certain species.
Merrylin was fascinated by the concept of darkness, whether life could exist in a void of nothing, whether darkness was simply the absence of light, what energies existed in the cold vacuum of space, or indeed on earth, forgotten subterranean places. From his many experiences he knew of extra planes within our own reality, the concept of the "multiverse" was very real to him, that he himself had encountered entities and beings whose origins were distinctly other worldly. Yet with every new alien god or preternatural life form, a new set of instructions, and new biology, and another mystery to solve. He would sit for hours staring at a particular corner oh his study which, at night, was so incredibly black his eyes would perceive things that simply weren't there - painting a miasma of colours and lights created entirely in his mind.
is inability to see certain wave lengths of light, and with the right equipment he could perceive that which could not be seen. He sought out fluids and concoctions with which to develop a form of photography that could capture what was truly in the darkness. After years of research he created a photo emulsion that could capture infrared radiation. With equipment in hand he began to photograph the heavens, dark spaces and forgotten places. Soon his images were capturing that which could not be seen by human eyes. The sky festooned with unseeable stars, the dust on tiny curlicues of air in forgotten corners.
But he was not convinced by darkness, he knew that his perception of it was merely his inability to see certain wave lengths of light, and with the right equipment he could perceive that which could not be seen. He sought out fluids and concoctions with which to develop a form of photography that could capture what was truly in the darkness. After years of research he created a photo emulsion that could capture infrared radiation. With equipment in hand he began to photograph the heavens, dark spaces and forgotten places. Soon his images were capturing that which could not be seen by human eyes. The sky festooned with unseeable stars, the dust on tiny curlicues of air in forgotten corners.
He even revisited old haunts, shunned black churches, eldritch towns, the maws of unspeakably dark caverns below ritualistic temples. He wanted to see where dreadful things dwelled. In one image, some huge unnamable thing swam, the darkness a thin window to another plane of existence. In another image some wisp of a person - perhaps some echo of another dimension, perhaps the mirror of himself, looking back at him. But he knew these things, what he sought was something more tangible.
He would take his carriage out from Merrylin house in Hellingshire and scoured much of the north of England for the sites of empty homes, abandoned by families after tales of hauntings and supernatural occurances had driven them to distraction. At first he left traps, food in desolate places and would wait in silence, in the darkness, the dank smell of mold and forget on every breath.
But all he caught were mice and rats and the odd stray cat. He had heard of a clever way to rig a Camera to catch an animal in situ, with fine wires and a number of lenses pointed around the house. He returned to find all but one had misfired. he developed his plate and lo and behold, there, in the picture was the strangest sight.
It lay crouched on the floor, perfectly in focus. It was diminutive, humanoid and bright white, yet blossoming from its back - four bizarre petal like protuberances. These appendages appeared to glow with a blue iridescence, and although it was a static image, conveyed something quite unique. His quick mind determined an instant hypothesis. This creature was gathering light, it was performing an act not unlike a plant. This was indeed a wild guess, so with camera in hand he continued to monitor the empty house and its new occupants.
Within a month he had collected ten images of the creatures. He called them "Char Elves" - despite the brilliant white skin in the photographs due to the effect of infrared, these animals were black as charcoal. Almost impossible to see with the naked eye, Merrylin rigged a hide for him to watch them from. They would appear from shadows, sometimes up to 15 individuals. The largest at around 25 cm tall, most much smaller. They emitted a strange high pitch frequency as a form of communication and once they had all stepped out of the shadows they would assume a crouched position and unfurl the flower like organ from their backs. This organ was almost imperceptible when closed to the rib cage and spine, and yet once open, a brilliant blue was visible within. They would stay like this for hours, and then scatter into the house, play fighting and hunting for insects and smaller mammals.
The creatures did not live in some hive beneath the house - in the day Merrylin examined every space the Char Elves materialised from. No holes or spaces for them to hide in or burrow beneath, it was apparent that Char Elves were coming from somewhere else. They appeared to utilise shadow in some way - either as a conduit or as a way of camouflaging their materialisation within our reality. It was impossible to know how, yet from multiple observations, it was soon undeniable - they were moving through planes of reality. He had seen this before, in the research of various physicists - that some facet of the human brain could perceive other realities, and even cross between universes, Yet he had never seen this act in a species as an evolutionary trait. What purpose would quantum teleportation serve? In his diary he wrote "I can only conceive that teleportation within this creatures primary universe is the norm; that harvesting energy through a biological mechanism is common in species native to that place. I cannot visit this place but I can witness its effect upon its fauna. Char Elves can move throughout universes. "
What baffled him was that it could not be sunlight that they were absorbing as a form of nutrients or indeed the catalyst for their ability. Not only would sunlight not provide the adequate energy to perform such acts, their catatonic state took place during dusk or at night. He assumed that their nightly activities were also deliberate, sunlight appeared to have a negative effect upon them, perhaps hindering their sight. Therefor it must be another form of energy they were absorbing. After many more restless nights he eventually caught one specimen and dissected it to decipher the anatomy of this creature.
Under microscope he found that cells taken from the lining of the organ upon its back were indeed similar in structure to that of a chloroplast - elements within plant cells which perform photosynthesis. He named it an "Erebuplast" after Erebus, greek deity of darkness. In his notes he also refered to the species as "Erebus".
He soon realised that it was only the larger and thus older generations of this species which would hunt; whilst the smaller ones would only gather energy via their flower organs. It was impossible for the energy to be collected from sunlight, and so Merrylin theorised some other source, some unseeable energy. We can hazard a guess that the organ harvested zero point energy; or dark energy, or indeed some form of energy generated by exposing a body composed of exotic matter to our universe. Merrylin was not far from the truth - his ideas pertained to the idea that Char Elves were not native to our universe, and that the organ itself had developed as a result of the creatures ability to move through planes of existence. A true pan dimensional entity which harvests energy by exposing its body to elements unseen in its primary reality.
Yet it seemed that continued exposure to our universe dampened its ability to absorb such ambient nutrients and therefor older specimens showed a rudimentary digestive system that could digest actual food. Hence the tendency for hunting.
After weeks of research, the Char Elves finally identified Merrylin. At first they were wary of his presence, but it was soon apparent that the creatures were threatened by humans - they would steal his belongings, dismantle equipment and bite him at any given moment. Within days he found it almost impossible to stay and study them as they terrorised him and his research.
He found infestations of Char Elves in a number of dwellings within walking distance of his abandoned house and realised that these apparently harmless creatures were far from harmless. Families fled the little village, calling the Char Elves "Gnasties" or "Gnasts". The Gnasts were an invasive species, left to their own devices quite pleasant, but confronted by humans - they became offensive, Gnasts would use their ability to be anywhere at any time to their advantage, appearing beneath beds or in hidden places, scratching and crying out in the night. creating a sense of foreboding within a household.
Char Elves were the source of that aged tale of things that go bump in the night - the malevolent gremlins full of mischievous intent.
He continued his research beyond England and found that many cultures had similar tales of obnoxious demons who appeared hellbent on ruining lives. The largest of which was the Toggeli - a child size Char Elf which could release a sedative secretion rendering its human folly paralysed from the neck down. Unable to move and very much awake, the Toggeli would then sit on its victims chest, restricting its breathing. This horrifying display of cunning emptied many a town, leaving desolate buildings to the silent hordes of Char Elves.
The dark, it seemed, was very much something to be feared.