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The Anecdotal Midlane Experience of 'TheDisconnect' [Grandmaster Zilean OTP]

Greetings Zilean Mains Reddit! It's TheDisconnect back with another guide for ALL of the midlane Zilean matchups. Who to dodge? Who to ban? Who is a free win? Let's find out! ^__^
About me: I am a long time Zilean main who has been master+ since season 7 on EUW. I am currently around 400lp Grandmaster. https://euw.op.gg/summoneuserName=TheDisconnect. I currently soloqueue as Midlane Primary / Toplane Secondary.
What is this post?: This is a rundown of every midmatchup i've played this season and roughly how I would expect it to go. These are ENTIRELY anecdotal and not based on any statistical evidence.
Ranking System: I will be ranking the matchups from 1 (easiest) to 5 (hardest). Most of this ranking system is based of laning phase. While I may talk about scaling/teamfighting the purpose of this list is to talk about Zileans 1v1 matchup mostly. Note that I always go Ludens first, taking Timewarptonic/Corrupting pot in most matchups with Aery.
  1. [Free] Should always be an easy lane. Always free for ganks and you can out roam them most games.
  2. [Good] Many plays you can make to win the lane and play with your jungler. You can follow them on roams without dying instantly and should not have to concede any cs due to zoning if the lane is even.
  3. [Even] Not always good lanes, but given the right circumstances can be playable or even good.
  4. [Bad, but not unplayable] You cannot realistically 1v1 them and will almost usually get out roamed.
  5. [Unplayable] What I would understand to be unplayable, you get zoned, cannot follow roams and are threatened by 1v1 kills constantly.
1. [Easy]
- Very easy matchup. Realistically he should stand no chance. You have solokill pressure on him due to his lack of range and he has no escape or gank assist. This gives you essentially a free lane with snowball potential. You out roam him.
- Similar to Karthus, Heimerdinger has no mobility. You have some solokill pressure and very good gank assist. Your bombs oneshot his turrets and you completely outrange his impactful spells.
- This champion is a joke early versus Zilean. Your outrange all his abilities with your E, and he has no answer to your E at all. Just E him and bomb him. It's that simple. If you get empowered Q'd it's a disaster but realistically that shouldn't happen. Out lane him, then out roam him.
2. [Even/Good]
- Veigar is just kind of stupid in lane. His whole game plan revolves around ignoring you. Zilean is fine with that. All you need to do is not be in range of his E and the lane is free. Be the better player and you win this one. Cleanse is not crazy in this matchup, consider it. Don't try solokill him it's a waste of time I find. Just try out roam him, Veigar roams are awful.
- If you are having substantial problems with the matchup, it's probably because you are not playing around Zoe's basic combos. Zilean has everything available in his kit to counter Zoe, you just have to use it right. She cannot dodge your bombs with her R. Your E is a death sentence. Your R negates her oneshot and you have about equal pushing power. Cleanse can be taken vs her but it's risky as then she can take your cleanse, which is powerful vs Zilean. While not a problem in general, can be very tricky if you fall behind.
- Cassiopeia is a powerful champion, but fairly slow scaling and lacks waveclear early. Most of your lanes will consist of farming and ignoring each other. Your E has just enough range that any time she engages you can just E her and that's that. Don't let her proc phaserush and you should be able to play around her ranges perfectly, eventually zoning her out of lane with poke or setting up kills for your jungler.
- Not a champion you see mid very often in high elo but I occasionally play against it. She lacks mobility so if her flash is down, she is always a free kill. This is a completely afk lane for the most part but she can be challenging to play vs with good jungle support. Often times you will get poked low enough that a dive is possible and you can end up either conceding farm or having to recall a lot. Not a difficult lane, but can be annoying. Her shield denies most opportunities for kills due to the nature of Zileans damage with bombs.
Twisted Fate
- I don't think i've ever played against a good TF player. I find this lane is always very easy, but I have no idea. Maybe versus a good player it would be challenging but I find his champion does nothing most of the time. Put bombs on his ult and let your team finish him off. Pretty easy lane and don't be afraid to take cleanse in this one.
- Similar to Cassiopeia in a lot of ways. It's difficult to stop the Ryze from scaling and you can sometimes give him a free lane. But Zilean scales great too so a free lane is good for you too. He outpushes you early and has better mana sustain in general. His solokill pressure is very low and his gank assist is medium at best. If his flash is down he is a free kill with your jungler.
- Jayce mid is not something I worry about too much. While he lanes well and he really struggles to deny you early. You are very happy afking the lane out and ignoring him if possible. The problem comes that he will always be able to gain priority against you early and can sometimes lead to early jungle problems. If you land a double bomb on Jayce usually your jungler does enough to kill him after. Jayce has only flash to escape and has no answer to your E. A good lane in general but can go very bad given some unfortunate plays.
- Similar to Lux. She can poke you a lot and setup kills for her jungler that way. Her ultimate can invoke a flash rather than an ult due to her passive and low cooldowns (she does not struggle to kill you again after ulting your). She has low mobility and poor gank assist however. In a 2v1 scenario you should be very happy, 2v2 can be more challenging as Oriannas 2v2 is strong. Just farm it out and attempt to outroam/outteamfight her later. I find getting a solokill to be possible but unlikely.
- I hate Viktor with a burning passion. His E tilts me to no end, but that is about it. Viktor is low mobility and very obvious damage so no problem with ulting versus him. His W doesn't do anything versus you and he cannot stop you farming/roaming. Don't try E him without a reason he will just blast half your Hp instantly if you go to E him.
- Really annoying, but similar to Viktor in that neither of you have a lot to say to each other. Out roam him, Xerath roams are bad. Don't try to 1v1 kill a Xerath, chances are you will lose it his champion is just better equipped and he will 100-0 you after your ult finishes. Play with the jungler and roam about, leaving him to wave clear mid while you win the game.
3. [Even]
- I get nightmares when playing against this champion in toplane, but in midlane it's fine. Just play around his ranges and shove the waves back and ignore him. Not much to say in this lane as ADC are weird to play against. Don't get into an auto attack off with him and you should be fine. E him instantly if he E's at you and often he will not even be able to attack you, resulting in an instant double bomb.
- This champion bores me to death. You have no kill pressure at all but she cannot really do anything either. Any champion with a shield is naturally going to be unkillable for Zilean. She has terrible gank escape so if you have a jungler to play with then you can bully her out of the game. Without a jungler, she will naturally outscale you into the early midgame and outroam you. She is very difficult to follow without vision and if she finds you in the river you can just be dead/ulting. Overall it's not too bad just it can go horrible and you have little way to deal with her on your own. When ahead just E her and let your team do the rest.
Aurelion Sol
- Really annoying champion. Not really possible to 1v1 but his 2v2 is kind of terrible. If you have your jungler with your and kill him, then you can bully him forever. If he gets ahead then he will out roam you completely. This is a purely snowball matchups. Try your best to not get behind. I find he often will buy Swiftness first, ignore you and run about the map, it's difficult to deal with so pay attention. You outrange him with your Q and your E can be a death sentence if his Flash/Nosedive is on cooldown.
- Often cited as the worst champion to play versus as Zilean. While I agree it's not great, you still have a lot of possible plays to make. Zilean has excellent gank assist and does outlane Kassadin pre six with little issue. If you get Kassadins flash solo then the floodgates for ganks open. Freeze your lane and farm him till he is out of the game. The reason I list this matchup as 3 is due to the fact that it's not always possible to pressure him early, and once he gets 6 you no longer have any agency with dealing him as Zilean. Hope your team are competent enough to not feed him after he is strong and always call when he is roaming. Generally I try to roam a lot if I am vs Kassadin with no jungle assistance. Rarely will he follow you as his a somewhat useless in large fights and prefers to farm.
- Given a purely 1v1 scenario, you should have no problem ignoring her entirely and never dying. Your E denies her to pick up daggers quickly and your range allows your to stay safe. Unfortunately League of Legends is a team game. The problem comes when Katarina roams after clearing every single wave. You can spam ping and hope your team moves and shove her in. Or follow her. Zilean can actually 1v1 Katarina with fairly consistent results (if you have problems with this try to learn exactly what she does, you can play around her cooldowns pretty easily with Zilean). Your E is supprisingly good vs Katarina and your ultimate completely denies her cooldown resets. So long as she is not 10/0 you should be in a great spot vs her. You need to pay attention to her roams at all times, and counter roam whenever possible. If you do not this is not a playable lane in any sense.
- A personal tilt champion of mine. I really cannot stand this champion. He out-ranges you in lane with his soldier pokes and his ultimate is an excellent counter to yours. If he ults you, and the impact damage doesn't kill you, then you are completely screwed. He is completely unkillable solo due to his escape and shield. He can have priority if he wants and his slow on his Q is enough to force a flash in a gank. All that being said, he has no kill pressure solo at all and it's very easy to afk versus him. Azir needs a lot of time to be relevant, and you can often support your team to a winning position before he comes online.
- Unkillable, massive ammounts of CC and damage. In general not a good champion to go against as Zilean, but given the right circumstances is very playable. If he has a lot of jungle support there is nothing you can do. If your flash is down playing vs him, even undertower can be very challenging. Try your best to play to your jungler and scale into midgame. Once in midgame you can mostly ignore him. Your E is useless vs Galio early as he will almost always go mercs vs you. Double bomb - E + E with your jungler is the best way to kill him. Galio as no way to escape once he is in meaning your E in a 2v2 is brutal for him to deal with and you can make him stuck with your jungler for a long time.
- Don't get hit by her E and your are perfectly fine. You out 2v2 her and given a nice double bomb you can send her right back to base. She has 0 mobility so if you land your E on her she is flashing or dead to a gank instantly. Don't be afraid to spam E on yourself in 1v1s versus her dodging is key here. Often times I will ult myself on literally 100% hp and just run at her to E her. She oneshots me in her combo, I die in my R and my team kill her due to the 99% slow. While a bit wacky she either procs your ult or you cc her to death. Try to out roam her, she is kind of slow and clunky and you can roam faster with your E.
4. [Bad, but not unplayable]
- Very annoying champion with very fast and unpredictable damage. Her R, Gunblade and the very fast nature of her combos make ulting vs her very difficult. Naturally, she outdamages and has very high mobility so landing bombs is only possible if she misses it all. Zileans E is very good at just speeding yourself, doding her E, then you can do the classic Zilean perma CC/auto attack to death. You can play outside the range of her first R and just bomb her out. You cannot go anywhere near her in the river. You need to pay attention to her roams at all times, countering is really hard and often will result in you dying.
- Very frustrating matchup. Be prepared to miss a million CS undertower early. His Q spam push early is literally impossible to deal with as Zilean and fighting him is a waste of time. Impossible to hit with bombs and outdamages you. If you do magically find yourself able to kill him he will just ult your bombs every single time with no problem. Ekko has a slow, a stun and high mobility. None of these equate to a good 1v1 for Zilean. You must shove him in and ward the river as much as possible as Ekko likes to roam. The best way to fight Ekko is when his E is down, that is your only opening, see if he wastes it and go for an E into double bomb. You need to pay attention to his roams at all times, countering is really hard and often will result in you dying.
- Given the right wave management and jungle pressure, Irelia can make the game unplayable for you. She is highly mobile and can kill you in CC or force your R with her E. Her R makes your R very easy for her to play around, as if you ult she will just wait for it to run out and if you run away you get slowed by her R, resulting in death. However, on a positive note, if you have jungle support she is very free kills. So long as you don't get 2v1'd it should be very easy as your E destroys her completely. Once you get ahead, I find this to be one of the easiest matchups in League for Zilean. You can just E double bomb her with 0 counterplay. The problem is getting to that point. Play very safe, concede cs early and try counter roam if possible.
- On paper, this matchup should be impossible, but I find more often than not it's actually pretty playable. The glaring elephant in the room is the fact he can take your ult. This is not something you can play around. Your ultimate is overpowered and giving it to sylas is a disaster. During the laning phase all you need to do is dodge his E, once you do that make sure you punish him instantly. E him and auto him down the lane. Bombs, auto attacks and corrupting pot can do a serious trade-back versus him.
- Yeah yeah, Zilean R counters Zed R it's the classic meme. It's not about Zeds R, it's about the laning phase versus him. Zilean is just so slow and clunky when dealing with Zeds blinks and instant damage. Zed will do half your HP in a combo and you can throw some bombs about randomly only to have him W it or just not W, leaving your bombs on his clone. Realistically Zed only loses this if he is an idiot. If you get ahead in this matchups it's hilariously free, but doing that without jungle support is a challenge. level 1-6 are all that matter here. If you can just survive and not die, you should be good. Try your best to not fight 2v2 as you should lose most matchups. Don't fight in river versus Zed either. Outscale him and be happy late game.
- Borderline unplayable but there are things you can do here. My secret tech is the frozen heart second item versus him. It gives enough armour to remove all his lethality and make his combo nonlethal, allowing you to ultimate anyone on your team. No matter how tempting it is, do NOT 1v1 him, it's impossible. The level of play you need to have versus him is immense. If he ints you can kill him, no other way. Your E outranges his Q so just E him if he walks at you in lane, you should not die to him in lane ever. You need to pay attention to his roams at all times, countering is really hard if he turns on you, you WILL die.
5. [Unplayable]
- This matchup is horrible. Unkillable, oneshots in CC, out roams, can freeze if he wants, impossible to gank. Really this is just not something I enjoy playing vs. I would dodge this if possible, otherwise goodluck. Your E is useless vs him during laningphase. He can always E your bombs and his ultimate is an instant death sentence. You cannot contest his roams at all. If he is fed you have most likely lost, your champion is absolutely useless versus him at all stages of the game. You need to pay attention to his roams at all times, countering is really hard if he turns on you, you WILL die.
- I refuse to play this lane. I'd rather 2 man toplane than versus this horrible champion. I don't know what to say other than ban this champion or dodge it. She out roams, out damages, out lanes and out 2v2's you. Your jungler can do nothing to help you and you can only start playing the game if you build a banshees second item. Horrendous lane and I don't think I have ever won it.
Most Champions you play against have weaknesses against Zilean, just figure out the way in which to abuse them. Remember that these are simply my understanding of the matchup and could hugely differ by elo. I will always assume the person Iam against is good at their champion. If you play versus a first time Irelia then you should have no problem, an experience Irelia will grind you into meat however. Don't underestimate the power of looking up the enemies stats before the game to see what you can expect.
submitted by TheDisconnect_EUW to ZileanMains


Stars from the Deep

Our age is truly a hurtful one. First Palmyra bombed into nothing by those brutish terrorists, then Notre Dame burnt to a cinder. The list goes on and on and as a historian I am all too familiar with the losses, familiar with what will fall now into oblivion.
Back then I did not know, oh that on some occasions oblivion is a blessing, for if you know something you might find yourself acting on it, like I do right now. But I am getting ahead of myself. I used to look at the sky and I wondered if the stars that we see up there are just reflections of the ocean’s and the nefarious bodies hidden in the dark. Back then I did not know.
Imagine my delight when the call came, the call that should change everything forever. To dwell on the past does no good but oftentimes I wonder if I had not picked up that day, would everything still be the same as before?
It was my old friend Dr. Gerhard Hassler, calling me directly from the site of his newest research project, not too far from the German-Danish border, between Flensburg and Kiel, in the marshes of Domsland. He had needed what seemed like hours to catch his breath but once he did, he was unstoppable: Flooding me with information, in between breaking in his native German, he told me of the ancient artefact they had found deep inside the marshlands. “Gone eons” he had said and “several million years old” and he talked of that dreadful idol, found between the hands of the marshland-mummy, held tightly to its chest. It was blackened and they hadn’t had come to relieve it from the clasps of its dead owner, but he was certain it was man-made and old, very old. Older than most we had found in northern Europe, these wild lands of Germanic tribes and Proto-Vikings.
He and a small team of colleagues and assistants were camped out there in the bog and searching for more, though what they tried to find he did not tell. We had studied together in England and as one of my oldest friends he wanted my opinion on something even though my expertise was to be found in the world of the ancient Levante, far away from the Germanic tribes this mummified marsh-dweller must have been a part of.
It was an easy decision: I packed my belongings and standard books dealing with the tribes that had lived in what is now known as Schleswig-Holstein, and off I was to Heathrow. I was anxious, not only for this new chapter in my life as a researcher, but also because Gerhard had told me Laura was with him already. She had been a bit older than us, a research assistant already when we were freshly enrolled students. I was in love but parted – with words unsaid. It would be… interesting to see her again.
My flight was delayed and so I took the time examine the photographs Gerhard had sent to me. The lightning was poor, but it was visible in all its glory: that marshland-corpse holding the infernal idol, clutching it tight to its chest like holding a newborn babe. A noise filled the waiting area, though none but me seemed to notice it. A thunderous humming sound, droning in the air and, hidden and barely audible, wailing screams like thousands of women going into labor at the same time. Nobody seemed flustered by it and the young man next to me seemed startled when I asked him what it was that made such a terrible sound.
My nerves calmed during the flight and, after a connectional shorter trip to Kiel, I had nearly forgotten the whole episode and blamed it on a migraine, which I had never had trouble with before. I intended to spend the night in Kiel and get a rental car the next day to meet up with Dr. Gerhard Hassler. Although I had asked him to pick me up and maybe share a drink in this more populated town, he had insisted not to leave the excavation sight.
What caught my curiosity was that he had still refuted all my efforts to inquire more on the matter.
“Soon, you will know,” he had whispered cryptically before hanging up on me. I spend the night in my rented room in the house of an elderly couple which was so nice as to accommodate me with a map of the region I intended to visit. They weren’t overtly interested into my activities, mistaking me for a mere tourist. Something strange happened when I mentioned the new-found mummy in the marshes of Domsland.
The old man, whose family had lived in the region since he could remember and who had himself only moved to Kiel to escape the place, brought my attention to a similar finding, decades ago.
Initially that mummy found in the 70s had been taken for a woman, an adulteress to be precise. Having been blindfolded and shorn, it was assumed she had been driven out by her people to die in the foul bog waters. It was now believed that the blindfold was but an hairbow that had slipped down over her eyes, though there were still some that stood firmly with the blindfold-theory.
I had consulted works on the “Girl of Windeby I” in preparation already, but what the old man told me had never come to my ear before. Surely it must sound ridiculous, a rumor sweeping the rural region, enlightening long forgotten legends and tales in the superstitious people.
The man said that as a child, he had often played out in the woods and flatlands surrounding the marshes. His parents had warned him not to wander too far, especially by night, scaring his childish innocence with tales of vile Will-o'-the-wisps. It was then, when the man had become nearly an adult, that he and some companions of his had wandered off to get drunk on some Dithmarscher beer when they heard a chanting chorus coming from deep within the boglands.
They had joked and laughed in the manner of people who didn’t want to admit that something was wrong, but something was wrong indeed on that day, he had said.
While these songs from within the dark and wet earth, this chthonic choir, was not enough to drive them away, the glimmering lights nearly in the shape of something he insisted (though of what he was not able to say), rising from the dirty waters, had them fleeing tail between their legs. Still, the old man laughed it off, still he tried to convince himself and to explain what he had seen. Yet – may it be schnapps or trauma – he failed to put in words what terror he and his friends had encountered that fateful night.
I retired to my room then, my things packed for the early journey tomorrow. Again, I looked at the pictures of the devilish idol Dr. Hassler had sent. It was difficult to say what it tried to depict, for dried mud and swamp earth had crusted itself all over it. It was oval in shape and there was something in the center on its surface, a circle maybe or some other circular symbol. The sides seemed to have ridges that might crisscross on its backside.
Whatever the idol represented; it was not familiar. Though not an expert with the religious and spiritual practices of the ancient tribes in these lands, Thor’s hammer and Odin’s spear were known to me. Whatever this thing was, it might have been obscure, or maybe older even than the Allfather himself, or simply unknown to me. These were my thoughts as I fell to sleep, glaring out at the star-littered night-sky.
The next day I said farewell to the couple and made haste to get a rental car, which was easy enough. Thus, soon I found myself on the road, dialing Gerhard Hassler’s number via the speaker. It was very early, and I was not surprised that he didn’t pick up.
He had acquired an ill reputation over the last years, talks of drink and seduction of young students, and though I refused to believe the bulk of it Gerhard had always liked liquor. There were other more sinister rumors about him I refuse to put to paper.
I simply kept driving, my excitement for the final confrontation with this new swamp-mummy ever growing. What would it be? A woman, as was first thought with the “Girl of Windeby I”? A man? Maybe even a hermaphrodite, I thought, though the notion was unlikely. Not many options were left to me and so I put on some music as I made my way to the excavation site near the town of Eckernförde which represented the center of civilization for the surrounding hamlets, scattered around the edges of the sinister Domsland marshes.
It was no long drive and I felt fresh and eager to begin my involvement in the project, thus I decided to go directly to the site and only check into my hotel later. Gerhard hadn’t returned any of my calls I had made from the road, which seemed odd indeed. Soon I would understand why.
I was on the right way but then I felt it creeping up on me, a sense of being alone and lost. Luckily, a wanderer came along. A disheveled fellow in khaki trousers and raincoat came down the road. I asked for the camp and he indicated the general direction but warned me to leave by night, for strange things had happened as of late. He himself was out here only because his wife had vanished months ago when she had walked their dog.
Many people talked of moving away, and some more knowledgeable than the others, talked of the secret lightning of the bog water, of the Will-o'-the-wisps and of strange droning growls that came away from the heart of the marshes. He told me that he had seen strange figures when he made his way out the swampy wetland later than he had wanted to. Strange figures, tall and nearly phosphorescent. Barely humanoid for they were stretched long and thin, and those were only some.
Big as hills, they had made their way through the water, nearly seeming to levitate above it. The big ones were masses of light and flesh (however a mixture of the two was possible he could not answer), jerking without pattern through the bog, approaching its heart. He would have left the area already if not for his missing wife.
He was sweating heavily and told me to leave, for a moment I followed his gaze but could see nothing where he had watched. As I turned around, he was already on his way, back to the town of Eckernförde I presumed.
I followed the roads he had indicated and after a while, I saw light. I saw the tents, tattered and wet and vanishing in the brown-green of the surroundings. There were two cars and some people about, a blonde woman stood up and walked towards my direction as she saw me approach their makeshift-camp.
I stopped a few feet away, got out of my car and approached her. To my question where to find Dr. Hassler, she answered he had been gone for the night now and that they were all worried. Where he had gone, she could not say but many of them was afraid that he might have gotten lost in the bog, for he had not been all himself as of late. But who I was she wanted to know. Of course, an old friend brought in to consult, was my response.
Thus, it turned out that the blonde woman was indeed Laura, the love of my university-life and we hugged awkwardly. Afterwards she showed me to the mummy, which was to my surprise still out here with us. Due to various administrative problems, she explained, they had not been able to pick the bog body up and bring it back to the laboratory.
When I inquired about the circumstances surrounding the project she started to shiver and to avoid my eyes. She told me that they thought it was a female, but something…was not right about it. Somehow the body seemed excessively large and in life the mummified thing must have been horribly deformed.
My inquiring which technical problems could cause such irresponsibility she could not answer – for Gerhard was the head of the project and in direct contact with the faculty, which had simply denied transport to the laboratory. At such dreaded words, spoken in a plain way as if they were not shocking, made my heart sink onto the floor. Surely, our newly found friend would have already taken a huge amount of damage.
Laura led me to the body and imagine my surprise as I saw it: The whole thing covered in some sort of red-black silt, it had not broken or damaged anything. How was this possible? The corpse though, it was odd. The half of the head seemed to have caved in and indeed it must have been above two feet tall. Furthermore, it was difficult to see with the bare eye, but it nearly seemed like something, or rather some thing, had started to grow from the belly, a tumor of gigantic size or maybe some strange sponge-like animal that had attached to it as the person was dying?
Then I saw the idol. Now it was clear to see, the circular form carved on its surface was an eye, a globe in the center of the oval shape. The ridges were idealized arms, coiled around the main body, five was their number if I had counted right. Neither plant nor beast had any form familiar to this thing, this sinister cyclopean item, dragged from the depths of the bog of Domsland.
I considered touching it but withdrew when there was murmuring about. The team, only four assistants Laura and Gerhard, and now I, was disturbed by some noise coming from afar, carried over to our ears through the muddy waters.
My suggestion, that it probably was birds, some bluethroat maybe or other avian native to the marshes, was met with skepticism. Finally, one hour after I had arrived Laura asked me to accompany her to the police station in Eckernförde, for she was afraid our head of research would not return by himself. Had he lost his way and stumbled into the heart of the bog? As I pondered this question and the bleak beginning of my time here I heard the same droning tune as from the airport, louder and clearer it seemed like the hollow earth itself was singing, like something beyond our feet was speaking into our very souls.
This time I was not alone in hearing it, one of the assistants fell to his knees and held a hand to his head, the others already helping him up again. In all his confusion the young man pointed a finger towards the water, and from the mist emerged a shadowed figure. Covered in vile dirt and wet mud and barely recognizable was Gerhard Hassler approaching us, something hidden in his arms, cradled like a babe.
He seemed confused but not all frightened or terrified. He spoke in a slow and un-rhythmic whispering tone as Laura tried to get the filth off his person. He had been out there all night this was where he had finally seen it, but what or whom he saw in the marshes he did not tell. It was dangerous that he had swallowed some of the water and might contract disease, so Laura and I agreed to return him to Eckernförde and get in touch with the faculty.
Only when we gathered our belongings did my eyes fall on the thing Gerhard had brought with him: Its shape was like the idol, only bigger – so much bigger! The size of a dog, he had carried and cradled it in his arms and would not be separated from it.
“I saw them! I saw them in the darkness!” he shouted as he tried to make his way past us. A thick mist had started to surround the camp, which seemed not too odd at the time although it gave our whole situation a sinister atmosphere. Trying to break through between Laura and I, Dr. Gerhard Hassler ran like a maniac back into the direction of the waters.
I ran after him and was able to pull him down. The others were at our side already and, although he protested heavily, we brought Gerhard to the van. It was decided to bring the bigger idol with which he had returned so mysteriously into the tent with the bog body, and as I laid it down more and more at unease in this strange situation, I saw that it had suffered a crack when it had fallen with its host. A large line from top to bottom scarred it now. In shame I shook my head – however, there had been no other way, Gerhard surely would have made off with it, probably even losing it in the filthy brown waters again.
The original team, safe one whom we would pick up later for we could not let our findings leave unguarded, made way in the van as I followed alone in my car. When we arrived at the police station they made it known that we should clear the site immediately, for some people had started to vanish out there months ago, first not many but the numbers had grown and a general sense of fear had started to haunt the small town.
They also called an ambulance from the hospital in the next town, which took Gerhard with it, still mumbling of the red stars that talked to him at night. Was it bog water that had broken loose such delusional thoughts in the brain of my old friend?
Afterwards we made our way to the hotel, where the rest of the team had taken up lodgings already. Laura suggested I take over Gerhard’s now vacant room, and for a time we sat at the bar of the hotel, reminiscing of the times gone by, trying to suppress the feel of nausea that was haunting all of us, but which none wanted to admit. It was then, when one of the assistants turned up to inform us of the vanishing of one of his colleagues.
The young fellow who had fallen to his knees had simply vanished into thin air, he said. As I went upstairs to help them search (for surely somewhere he must be) Laura decided to call in with the faculty, to ask for guidance and to inform of the increasing bizarreness that surrounded the project.
Upstairs, there was no trace of the young fellow, the other two feeling increasingly paranoid as to what had happened with their colleague. I tried to calm them down, when I myself nearly lost my footing, for such shock had hit me. It was not visible at first, but as we looked through the room in contemplation what to do my eyes fell through the door into the small bathroom. As the light fell through the door, I noticed something was off about it, yet not what. I braced myself and went inside turning on the lights. The shower seemed freshly used, though none had taken time to clean themselves the two blokes assured. It was then when I realized it, the fresh water all splattered around the shower had a color I couldn’t describe!
I used a rag to soak some of it up and to proof my perception true but when I did so the rag stayed dry. I didn’t disclose any of this to my companions but the fact that this strange liquid was all around filled them with fear. I ushered them out, just in time as I saw the drops moving in the air, sparkling like celestial corpora.
Now we all fell in a sort of panic and stumbled out of the room into the hallway, our commotion having started to draw other guests out of their rooms. What was the red water? What was its meaning? Towel still in hand I put my nose to it and realized – yes it was water, not blood. How could water turn this strange hue of reddish pink, for rust it was surely not to produce such a color as this.
Laura appeared in the hallway, her face twisted in pure terror. Quickly, she ushered us into her room and tried to ease the mood, to search for a logical explanation. However, she had bad news for this was the moment it started to dawn on me how wrong the whole situation was, how wrong it had been to leave a man outside by the bog at night.
Laura had ill news, for once the police had called the ambulance taking our friend Gerhard Hassler to the hospital, it had suffered an accident and my friend had vanished amidst it all! Laura also reported that the faculty had no knowledge of any excavation, not even speaking of a newly found body. Something was wrong. We sent the assistants down the lobby, best not they stay alone amongst themselves and increase their panicked state.
Meanwhile Laura and I had ordered management to open the door to Gerhard’s room. There were mountains of paper on the small table near the window, while some of them were covered in a shaking script, many contained drawings. Five-rayed stars, one big eye in their center. Had Gerhard found something about the strange idol’s meaning. Systematically we split the ounces of papers and tried to find something referring to the drawings and the meanings behind them.
His words were mostly personal musings “What if we got it wrong? What if the way to leave our planet is not through the sky but through the deep? Soon, you will know.” or “The stars in the nightline are not true, their light is not dead either and they are not far from us. Not at all.” or “Is it all a mirror made by light?
Have we truly been so blind not to see the reflection above and the truth below in the abyss? I must go there, the abyss and its 13 entrance halls are in the diaspora of temporal gates in the lock and the key and the gate and the player, all swallowed up by itself. The stars walk among us again, rejoice – rejoice – rejoice.”
There was further mentioning of a secret part of De Germania written by Tacitus, in which the Roman allegedly alluded to the strange practice of a single tribe in the north. These people worshiped an unknown deity, a god unfamiliar to all of their compatriots which hated and feared it and did not dare to record its name. It was said that they fed their own to this strange god, who was Iupiter and Neptun at once for them. It fell mostly to a virgin of the tribe to carry the corpses into the bog, her eyes covered with a blindfold “to embrace her with the stars, with the eye that devours ” as the scrolls say.
What did it all mean? Was there a method to his madness? Laura did garner as little sense from his ramblings as I, and thus we set to move down to the lobby, to inform our companions of our strange findings.
To our shock they were gone. The concierge informed us coldly of their departure, where to he could not say, but I knew already.
Night had fallen and all was cloaked in starless night as we returned to the bog. Our camp was in tatters, the tents torn and ripped with a malevolence I had never seen before. The assistant left to guard it was gone, as was the bog body and its small idol. Still there, however, was a sinister will. Laura felt it and begged me to leave, flailing her arms as we felt the shift of the ground. A sudden earthquake shook us and then I saw it and was finally able confirm what I had feared. Left was the crusted black shell of the larger idol, but whatever it had hidden was gone now.
Laura started to sob as we tried to regain our footing, but I knew it was too late, I had to know what was at the bottom of this mystery, what had happened to my old colleague, what would happen in the future. I was ripped from my thoughts by Laura who clutched my shoulder and pointed towards the water where strange lights had assembled.
I took her hand and ran towards the car when the earth shook again. We got into the automobile but whatever we tried it wouldn’t come to life. We finally gave up and decided to make our way by foot, for staying there with the torn tents and everyone gone, was out of the question.
We had to treat with care, a misstep could soak you up in the slime and the constantly vibrating ground didn’t help. How long we walked I cannot tell, minutes became hours, hours felt like years. At first, I tried to navigate by orienting myself at the stars but to my horror I didn’t see any familiar ones. The air smelled different, tasted thick with something I had never felt before. Laura held on tight to me, asking me what had happened how this was all so unreal. Just hours before we had been to the town down the street and now, now we weren’t sure if we were still in the same place. There was light ahead, cars, and then not.
We heard strange voices behind us but when we turned there was nothing to see. As soon as we kept going again, the whispers started all over. I looked across the dark marshes and thought I saw a figure, dark and terrible, without nose or ears, smiling knowingly towards me.
Finally, we settled amidst some protruding ferns, hoping for rescue. Surely someone must have noticed the earthquake, surely someone would come for is. After a while the hellish tunes had stopped and we were left to our own devices, the sky illuminated from time to tame by the strange giant lights that sometimes seemed like whirling arms and tendrils that flew high above us and emitted no care, as cold as the stars set on the firmament.
What strange phenomenon this was I could not say, for sure it was more stunning than the aurea borealis, but why had I never heard of it before? The night had become claustrophobic in its strange ethereal light. No animal was heard, no wind felt. The foul waters had been shifting underneath as if something was moving beyond our very feet.
I saw him then, he walked towards us steadfast with an expression of pure bliss: Gerhard Hassler had made his way back to the bog, in his arms the familiar glow of the terrible creatures. It was small and its coiling shape nearly made me vomit, how someone could stand to carry it around with bare hands I didn’t understand.
It’s lidless eye in the center of what might have been the corpus, lined by teeth and claws that were soft like flowery petals, the teeth growing out of the eye, I nearly fainted.
Hassler talked to me long and whispering and with pure madness. How he had found this place in a map left by the mystic Gaius Prinnus Tubero, who had been driven from the Roman Empire into the wastes of the north where he had housed in the wilderness as a savage, feasting on man-flesh and vermin. There was nearly no written record to determine if the man had ever lived or might have been just fiction.
Those few glimpses some writers had provided led to a horrifying picture: Born near Jerusalem in the year 133 AD, Gaius Prinnus Tubero had been a member of a young Christian splinter group. Dabbling in various cults he had started to practice religious magic before he went on to more gruesome rituals that involved blood ceremonies and ritualistic mutilation. It was said he had taken the daughter of a prefect, had sacrificed her to strange gods nobody had ever heard of. Finally, he was caught and made a eunuch, his nose and ears cut off he was driven out into the desert. Stranger sill was, that three centuries later writers from Italy said that he was mentioned by Gothic princes who were hostages at the court in Ravenna. They confirmed that Tubero had been counselor to Attila the Hun and that he had wandered Scandinavia where a land-bridge, only accessible to him, led to a land where he refined his foul craft, taught to him by his dark gods.
Rumors had it that this vile sorcerer had written a work of Gnostic character called Clavis ad Oculo, “the Key to the Eye”. However, Hassler insisted, there was a missing piece, something he did not yet grasp. Tubero had been to the East, he needed my expertise on the region to conduct further research to find the key to the ritual, though its implications he didn’t fully understand. I had to help him he insisted, he needed to know. I turned away from him in incomprehensible disgust. He pleaded with me, held this creature, this thing in his arms high above his head as it twisted and jerked in a spasmic manner and filled the air with its screeching. I turned around to see it rise up high into the sky to join its lightning brethren.
Then, within the blink of an eye, the lights were everywhere, and the droning made talk impossible. The earth shook again, and I felt a giant mass under my feet. Laura lost her footing and fell, sucked in by the bloody bog water. She screamed for help, but I couldn’t risk to lose myself in the sinister liquid. It was too late, the last I saw of her were those pleading eyes.
I moved onward until I felt the water’s thickness clinging around my hip and movement became impossible. I had made my choice, knowing it was all for naught I caught sight of a strange phosphorescent mass rolling over the marshes right towards me. Glowing large humanoids surrounded me. Their forms – I can barely describe them. They were coated in half-formed red flesh and stood at least 10 feet.
I could neither discern eyes or mouths but when they came closer, I saw the terror of it all. The faces of companions, nearly gone, where just beneath their glowing membrane skin, trapped in apathy they blindly stared from their living prisons.
As they approached me, their five tentacled arms stretched and grasped me, the earth shook again and the lights in the sky, those damnable Will-o'-the-wisps, illuminated it all like day. Then we heard it, the chthonic tune, arhythmic and dreadful and photons assembling to masses of light half-material ghosts of eon-old creatures watched down on us, invisible and half-visible and though I didn’t see them I felt their will on me.
To my horror I realized the marsh-water was of a nefarious red that turned to crimson to yellow to pink to something altogether I had never seen before. I saw the monstrosities in all their might: Their skin was unreal, like the bodies of giant jellyfish but hard and coated and crusted at the same time as they were bloated and soft and all covered in colors I had never seen before, or ever since. Their five “arms” stood and moved in impossible angles being broken and reassembled by the emitting of their own inner glow.
Phosphorescent large beasts surrounded me. They shifted into one and separated into many to join again. The faces of my former companions were now only shades of imprints. If they were still alive, I could not tell, but deep fear and hate befell me.
Their cries where freshly hearable in that droning chorus. I screamed in terror as I saw their hands shifting under the skin of those beasts; faces trying to break through this otherworldly mass, their screaming grimaces pressed against the ethereal membranes of their captors who met together to form a giant thing of eye and maw I can’t even attempt to explain.
The sky turned upside down as if it was ground, the colors of the water ever shifting in shades of purple and azure and the flora and fauna becoming hard obsidian piercing it in mirrored angles. Birds of stone fell through the sky into the ground to reappear through it and disassemble and reform in new insectoid shape.
Finally I understood it all: Feeling myself infinitely pulsating I saw the youths of the old man’s tale running away from me, I saw a young woman, throwing herself with the idol of her living god into the waters, the priests in the village had conducted the ritual, sending her on her way, opening her inner eye by removing the outer ones.
Of course, what we had found was not a woman at all anymore, the assimilation had barely begun but already taken hold, finally bearing fruit only now. Millennia passed before me and time became a flat circle in the spherical form Earth had taken on amidst it all at every place at once. The heart of the bog, the great eye that was maw and the great maw that was eye.
When I regained my senses it was all gone and I was alone amidst the holy and blessed water. I made my way back to the hotel and gathered the notes left by what was once called Gerhard Hassler. I barely followed the news anymore, although I smiled when I recognized my own face on the TV. The news reporter talked about the man who had allegedly murdered his colleagues, though no bodies had been found yet.
Once I knew what I had to do it was easy. What Hassler had failed to understand was that there was no key for the gate, the key was the gate.
Once again, I find myself in a room, gazing at the deep bottoms of the firmament the stars shining from below like billions of eyes, their unyielding stares penetrate into my flesh, my mind, my soul. Soon you will see the truth of indentation and abyss! Rejoice – Rejoice – Rejoice!
The following material might be disturbing, viewer discretion is advised. Locals in Tel Aviv are still shaken from yesterday’s traumatic findings. After reports of what was described as “strange lights” coming from a house at the fringes of the city, police investigated immediately believing that it might be related to the vanishing of several dozen people that had disappeared over the last few days. What the officers found was truly horrific:
The suspect in an ongoing investigation in Germany, Dr. Alexander Edward Hamilton, a sixty-five-year-old historian from the United Kingdom, was found dead amidst of what appears to be a brutal mass-killing. 32 people had been abducted by the man before he ritualistically tortured and dismembered them.
How Hamilton was able to do so without being noticed is not fully clear right now, but official statements from police and the ministry of the interior immediately promised a thorough investigation. It appears that Hamilton blinded himself after he had murdered all his victims. Finally, he committed suicide via drowning himself in a shallow bowl of water. Police in Israel as in Germany, where Hamilton was wanted for the murder of six researchers, are clueless as to the motives of the historian. Hamilton’s family and friends are shocked, not remembering that he had ever shown interest in religion, besides his research on it.
Next to a collection of ancient books, Hamilton’s only possession of note was an object the authorities don’t feel ready to disclose to the public yet, but what is rumored to be a statue Hamilton had been clutching as he drowned himself.
submitted by don_h_kowalski to scarystories