The old man took a sip from his mug.
A strange, seemingly glowing, yellow liquid flowed into his mouth and dripped alongside his thick, white beard.
“You have found me.”
The few candles, scattered randomly around the small pub shuddered for a moment as the old man turned to reveal his worn, wrinkled face.
“Are you ready to pay up?”
“There is no going back.”
Another sip was taken from the large mug.
A strong, vile smell emanated from the mouth of the old man with each spoken word.
“I am certain.”
The old man sighed.
“As you wish.”
He stood up from his old bar stool, the drink had disappeared altogether, and started walking towards the back of the pub.
It was unbelievably dark, yet one could clearly see strange, almost human silhouettes sitting at the few tables strewn around the bar’s small interior.
“Do not stray.”
The old man walked and walked for far longer than the building could be long and after a journey of at least ten minutes through the suffocating darkness, a light could be seen in the distance.
It was a faint light, a warm light, yet it could not be trusted.
Almost as if it tried to speak.
Tried to warn.
The point of no return.
The old man walked towards the light, it’s source a candle on a small, dark, round table with two chairs of the same wood and colour.
The old man took the chair closest to me and pulled it away from the table, beckoning me to come and take a seat.
I moved towards the chair, noticing the many shadowy silhouettes from before were now standing around the circle of light.
They were just in the light, in such a way that it would’ve been impossible for them to be actual shadows, yet they stayed their place, seemingly afraid to come any closer.
They trembled, some even waved and shouted without a voice.
A final warning.
But I was certain.
I would not sway from my quest.
I approached the chair and sat as the old man walked towards the opposite end of the peculiar table and took a seat of his own.
I had not noticed this from a distance, but the table was engraved with many signs, images and texts both known and foreign to me.
The engravings were odd as they seemed to emit a certain light.
A yellow light.
A moving light.
“Jonathan. I will ask you once more. Do you wish to continue?”
The old man beckoned into the darkness.
After a short delay, a shade holding a mug containing a yellow liquid walked towards the table.
The old man took the mug and the shadow disappeared without a trace.
As though it were nothing more than a figment of my own imagination.
The silhouettes shuddered for a moment, as the candles had shuddered before.
Slowly, the old man took a sip from the mug.
One sip, two sips and a third.
Then he stopped, placed the mug on the table and slowly moved it towards me.
I took the large cup and placed it on my lips.
The smell was even more vile this close to my nose.
It made me shiver, but not out of disgust.
Out of fear.
I drank, one sip, two sips and a third.
“Now that you are ready, listen close and remember my words, for I will only say this once and no more.
“Deep down under the far off northern star lies a crypt.
“A crypt older than man, older than the world itself.
“It has been there forever, and will remain even longer.
“This crypt is where you must go.
“You must venture to it, but never near it.
“You must await at a minimum of a hundred paces and a maximum of two hundred.
“After reaching a point that feels right to you, you must lay down and close your eyes.
“Only you must not fall asleep, for the creatures will drag your soul into their world if you do.
“After you have closed your eyes, you will hear much noise.
“There will be pain, suffering and pleading.
“You will hear your loved ones begging for your help, but you must not listen.
“I will not say they are not your loved ones, for they could very well be, but still you must not open your eyes.
“After roughly ten minutes you will start feeling sharp stings in your chest.
“Keep your eyes closed, the creatures can not harm you, not with the liquid running through your veins.
“After another ten minutes you must remain still for thirteen more.
“This is the most difficult part of all for what you will hear now, I can not prepare you.
“Your soul itself will be ripped from your body and placed across of you, begging you.
“It will bargain, pray, do whatever it can to save you.
“You must not listen, you must not open your eyes.
“After exactly thirteen minutes the sounds will stop and you may look.
“The crypt will now lay in front of you.
“It’s doors slightly opened, beckoning you to come and enter it’s long, damned halls.
“This you must do.
“For what reason you go, I know not and I wish not to know.
“It is your journey and yours alone.
“You may now ask me one question that I will answer truthfully, for I am no fiend.”
I looked around me.
The shadows had all disappeared, save for one.
It stared at me with a faceless grin.
“What happens when I open my eyes prematurely?”
The old man stopped and looked me straight in the eyes, his filled with terror.
“A fate more horrible than any imaginable.
“Not Lucifer nor God up high would dare open their eyes to the horrors that come from that infernal crypt.”
The old man stood up, and walked into the darkness.
The shadow approached me after which point I fainted.
I awoke to find myself back upon the Scottish hills where I had found the pub, only now it was abandoned and in a deplorable state.
I have yet to decipher the meaning of the old man’s words, but I know that their secrets will reveal themselves to me in due time.