Drums pound. Echoing, bouncing from Gothic stone. Screeches and screams fill the chill night air. Torches cast shadows, twisting and turning in dark ripples.
Horned shapes caper, arraigned in four colours.
My heart pounds in time with the drums. Pupils expand, sensations collated, categorised.
I know in my heart of hearts what is at stake here, what this dread ceremony means. The others laugh, oblivious.
The night is Halloween. The festival is Samhuinn. The Celtic New Year. Lies cloaking something darker. The sky loses all light. A ring surrounds the moon. The stars, one by one, wink out.
The flames form shapes, unwholesome and unclean.
Effigies loom above the gibbering masses. They move, weave and dance in time to music from beyond.
This is hell. Hell spilled over from outwards, from some other place, infecting reality with greasy fingers.
All of this could be innocent, the feverish imaginations and insight of someone who reads far too much science fiction.
I try to think that way, try to tell myself that.
For a while that seems to be the case. Rational explanation rules the nerdy shoutings of my hindbrain. The Imperial Truth shows the way.
Then a wall catches fire. Fire in the shape of the Luna Wolves emblem.
I realise that I walk in a benighted place. No longer is the comforting menace of Edinburgh’s Gothic architecture reassuring. No, now the menace is threatening, vile, corrupting.
My very soul feels threatened.
A new year dawns.
Darkness comes with it.
The North is lost.
Chaos comes to Edinburgh.