There are ways of being inducted into the practices, those esoteric traditions that predate computers, cell phones, industry, and even paper and bronze.  Make the right deals, learn the right words to say or symbols to write down, and you can make the wind listen to you, exchange your skin for that of a serpent, or call forth the sorts of monsters that appear in horror movies.

One of the common ways is to be born to it.  These words that bring forth nightmares and these symbols that speak to the wind are the product of centuries of deals being made, repeated until they become expectations and assumptions, provided the person has been awakened to that world and made the necessary agreements.  Families are very good at keeping these traditions going, establishing that repetition, and ensuring that each successive generation is appropriately awoken and given everything they need.  But the drawback to that is having to deal with family, and old families have their own problems.

The second way is to stumble onto it.  To find a book hidden in a library, or an object both strange and powerful at  a crime scene where the deceased was killed by something not human nor animal.  The risks are pretty cut and dry when you’re going it alone and ignorant in a world where people feel it’s necessary to hide arcane texts, or where one’s predecessor was killed by something Other that might come after them and their new trinket.

The last way, the old way?  The road we’re going down?  To make that deal directly.  Find or be found by the fey things, the goblin things, the things that used to be ghosts and became something more, the things that used to be human and became something less. Strike those deals.  Make those compacts.  Those strange Others can give up shares of their power and teach their secret knowledge.

Power, knowledge, and promises. Who could say no?  After all, Others and those inducted into Other ways cannot lie, and they say it’s okay.  Why would anyone say no?

Perhaps because of the drawback; that nothing comes for free, and this power, this knowledge, and these promises come with an expectation.

“Something terrible happened, of a scale that words cannot easily convey.  We need you to look into it.  No need to solve it.  Simply… look into it.”

A modern supernatural web serial by Wildbow, set in the same universe as his 2014-2015 serial Pact.  Reading Pact or prior knowledge of the setting is not mandatory for reading Pale.

The story updates with new chapters twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with chapters grouped into novel-like arcs.  Expect to see interlude chapters dividing up the arcs, expanding on the story from other perspectives or in other formats, and there may even be supplementary material appearing in the midst of those arcs.

Any resemblance to real people, places, or things is coincidental.  If you run into anything that resembles some of the more dangerous things in this story, seek a priest or counselor.

Features header art by Nocturne.

Click here to start reading.

Other Serials by Wildbow include…