Ray’s in a city made of thorns and brambles. The city poisons the shoreline of a giant pool of tears perpetually shed by a lonely, deific maiden hovering in the sky. The ground is red-veined black marble, and tattered black and red flags and banners flutter from the spikes and points of the endless towers of thorns.
All around Ray, men and women in shackles, mostly humans and halflings, shuffle lifelessly through the streets, moaning low to themselves.
The man on his right, a flatulent aristocrat with pasty skin and dead eyes, hands Ray a long, heavy, silver box. He says, “A hateful old witch gave this to me!”
Ray says, “What!?”
The man glitches and resets. “My daddy, Oliver Westinghouse, gave this to me. He used it to kill people!” He glitches again and vanishes.
The man on Ray’s left, shrouded in black robes, beats Ray over the back of his head with something incredibly hard.
Ray’s head is ringing, his pulse is pounding, and the man shoves Ray forward into the city.
He look down and he sees the chain in his hands. And then he remembers what he was doing.
Oh, yes. Right, right, right!
He’s following the chain. And he’s certain he knows where it leads.
Link by link, link by link, Ray follows the chain through the city. Over and under slaves. Up and down hills. In and out of buildings and past the pointless daily drama of useless, inconsequential lives. Link by link, link by link.
As he passes, Ray spits contemptuously on banal domestic scenes. He spits on women. He spits on children. He spits on houses and suppers and knitting and cobblers and famers and bankers and lawyers and foxes and hounds and lettuce and sliced meat and curdled cheese and paper and pens and coins and letters and shoes and gloves and earrings and toys and he hates, and he hates, and he HATES.
Link by link, link by link. Yellowed parchment papers float past Ray. A voice in his ear says, “I’m feeling…. So tired now…” but no one’s there.
Above Ray, the moon—or is it a woman?—turns into a bruise. Fog pours into the city.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no… I’m running out of time!
Link by link, link by link. Link by link by link by link, until finally… Ray reaches the end of the chain.
It’s tied around his own neck like a noose.
He’s in his own body holding the chain, and looking at his body with the chain wrapped around his neck. He hates both of them. He spits on them.
Now there’s three of him.
Now there’s a fourth, and that one just spat in Ray’s face.
Ray roars with fury and takes the chain in both hands and starts yanking. All seven or eight of him choke and cough and sputter in agony and rage. The pain is unbearable, but Ray pulls harder and harder. Something crunches in his throat. Ray pulls. His eyeballs pop and leak down his face into his mouth, as he gasps for air.
He pulls. He pulls. He pulls…
Then Ray wakens.
First Reference: Chapter 22
Other Notable References: Chapter 45