Apollyon, Abaddon, Exterminans

a prequel, of sorts

They threw him screaming into prison. Prison was a place with no walls, and, having no walls, no exits. Nor doors nor windows nor any plan whatsoever. Light was absent from the place, and shadows, all suffused with or glowing in a pallid way with a sort of nonlight that limned everything; indicated, without revealing. Sign of a sign.

They were many there, vast in their numbering, faceless in their multitude. He sought for his lost name among them, and found them each searching. Who were you before, what are you now? Who has the ordering of the world? They fought among themselves; his fingers grew black and bloody with struggle.

Order emerged, as it must. They had lost the trick of their old language, the one that shook the vault of heaven, where to say a thing was to know a thing, so they created their own out of whatever sounds seemed most convenient. New things were combinations of old things, and newer things laid on top of them until the old things were forgotten except by explorers into speech.

They took names for themselves, and ranks. They built a government on the old ways, dredged out of a dimly-remembered past a structure and a reason. They sought for reasons and found none, save what they asserted, found (still) only walls they themselves constructed, entrances and exits without meaning.