Sunday 12 January 2014

Twelve Kinds of Dark

(I need names for these, if anyone has any ideas.)
(Names so far added by Tedankhamen)

#1 (Stippledark)
A precise darkness, signalling its exactness by drawn degrees. Its fingers leave a kind of embroidered arabesque over the surfaces it strokes. Rational, non-gothic, slightly headachy darkness, not given to dreams or visions.  Unimpressed by magic, fading only as it must, and when, before the spell. Favoured by small things as it knows them. It picks out the image and the detail like a blade.

#2 (Obisdium-23)
It is a clear, pale dark that holds a gleam, dense like rotted iron or lead that’s scorched. It fills space, holding objects and carefully enforcing their distance apart. Like a calm, cold, murderous doctor or nurse. It brings order, consequence and mundanity, yet it is not mundane. Like a strange herald to a boring lord. Silent and empty on its own, but a harbinger of overwhelming dark. It claws at the surface of things, preventing contact, each separate and alone. Often a sign that the worse is yet to come, that you have lost.

#3 (Nefarshade)
This dark is cunning, not where it is supposed to be. It creeps. Laughing at you. Diffusing from its outer source and seeping into the borders of light, poisoning it. Barring a lantern with unexpected dark like the walls of a prison. It hangs to things a little and makes them less than they were. Cradling its own boundaries, setting and ignoring at the same time.  A smuggler, only useful while there are laws and only useful breaking them.

#4 (Houndark)
This dark is long and low. Lazy and thick, slow to arrive when the light goes out, last to leave when lit. It pauses before the lamp. It loves life, heat and breath, flows thickly around all living things. Lazy as it is, it is a killers shroud which favours those who hunt and track. It gives away the weak and does not know the dead. Those without a beating heart will find it hard to hide inside. It throbs slowly from the deep sky and the birth-caul stars, trickles into the earth.

#5 (L’ombre dedans et dehors)
This dark is known for its love of beauty and its many deepness’s.  It loves a fair degree, comes in at an angle, cradles shdow and bleeds them everywhere. It highlights great volumes and gives depth and shape to what was merely absent space.  It makes a geography of the unseen. It is always leaving. Never staying.  Yet if you stare directly into this dark, you will not be comforted.

#6 (Dankscratch)
This darkness is the dungeons friend, and horrors too. It hides almost nothing and constantly threatens to go away. It flickers, obviously. Things move around it. Even walls.  It highlights you and shows you nothing. It is a contemptible dark. It is the most common sort of dark for our purposes. It flees after adventurers, hates to be alone yet brings aloneness with it. It tries to get round corners and doors yet fails.

Few darks are as brutal as this one.  It sits alone, ever isolated, ferocious. Watching lesser darkness pass beneath it. It holds itself effortlessly in the pool of the earth and judges everything it encompasses with a ruthless reduction of volume and mass. All pretension is brought low within it. All flaws are exposed. It lays upon the mighty and the weak alike, or anyone who travels. They hate it and they need it. It sustains nothing and loves nothing.
It holds the vulnerable impassively in the midst of danger, protecting them but caring not.

Another romantic. This darkness hangs gently around.  It abrades the spaces between things, introducing them to one another. It eases boundaries. It fills in from the shadows and expands, growing secretly while you are not looking. It softens the oncoming dark, gently, but also hides it. A delicate shield for the ravening night. It fills the air, dulling the edges of your vision, hiding identities and blurring distant shapes.

Explosive dark, rippling out and hurrying away. Arriving unexpectedly but rhythmically, and to some plan, hidden from you. It wheels in circles and shoots rapidly from place to place, running madly in self-set vectors. It wants attention and attracts it, happy when you are looking at it and into it. Its movements are seductive and seem lively and lifelike. It wants to burn you and see you burn.

This is a very civilised dark, rarely seen this deep. Aware of people and social space. It knows expressions on your face and takes an interest in them. It hangs on walls, it knows cracks and appreciates glass that lets it into peoples houses. It gets in your living room. It knows things and objects, hats and coats, shields and swords, and keeps itself aware of them, it lives on a human scale, concerned with their concerns. It is in the middle of things.

It has beauty but it brings the end of things. It makes everything an elegy to itself. A mortal dark, or a darkness not indifferent to mortality. It marks breaks in the slow cycles of time and is still. Though it makes everything beautiful, and brings any aesthetic quality to a fine pitch, exposing the rightness in things, it does not show you more than any other kind. It will fill the path. It is a passing dark.

It is everywhere, it underwrites the blackness. Distant, indifferent, cold and opaque.  It loves texture but not shape. It is easily warded off but never leaves, easily occluded by the light yet burns longer and deeper than the sun. It makes you feel small. It is unaware of you and will continue without you. It is awesome and comes from the furthest places, outside time. Drifting past you and interacting minimally with your world. It is direct evidence of a larger existence that makes yours nothing by comparison.


  1. Good lord these are awesome. I'm reminded of the Schmidt sting pain index.

  2. Speak to darkness spell would make this even more handy

  3. I did 6 then stopped for fear of being too literal...
    1 Stippledark
    2 Obisdium-23
    3 Nefarshade
    4 Houndark
    5 L’ombre dedans et dehors
    6 Dankscratch

  4. 11) Pimeadark or Winterdark (pimea is Finnish for dark)

  5. Hi Patrick, just in case you missed my reply on my blog, feel free to use my entries however you see fit. I am honoured. Tedankhamen is fine. Glad to see you are still creating, hope to get back to it when this year of mad parenthood and publishing ends.

  6. #7: Karsht
    #8: Sablette
    #9: Zithershard
    #10: Plebeiush
    #12: Murk