Ghouls do not build. They are parasites and scavengers, eaters of carrion. The city they call Ghûlheim is something they found, long ago, but did not make. No one they call knows (if anyone human ever knew) what kind of creatures it was that made those buildings, who honeycombed the rock with tunnels and towers, but it is certain that no-one but the ghoul-folk could have wanted to stay there, or even to approach that place.
Even from the path below Ghûlheim, even from miles away, Bod could see that all of the angles were wrong — that the walls sloped crazily, that it was every nightmare he had ever endured made into a place, like a huge mouth of jutting teeth. It was a city that had been built just to be abandoned, in which all the fears and madnesses and revulsions of the creatures who built it were made into stone. The ghoul folk had found it and delighted in it and called it home.
A dark and disjointed scent: smoke and black musk, bladderwrack, opopponax, galangal, and pepper.
Eau de Ghoul
They all started telling stories, then, of how fine and wonderful a thing it was to be a ghoul, of all the things they had crunched up and swallowed down with their powerful teeth. Impervious they were to disease or illness, said one of them. Why, it didn't matter what their dinner had died of, they could just chomp it down. They told of the places they had been, which mostly seemed to be catacombs and plague-pits (“Plague Pits is good eatin',” said the Emperor of China, and everyone agreed.) They told Bod how they had got their names and how he, in his turn, once he had become a nameless ghoul, would be named, as they had been.
“But I don't want to become one of you,” said Bod.
“One way or another,” said the Bishop of Bath and Wells, cheerily, “you'll become one of us. The other way is messier, involves being digested, and you're not really around very long to enjoy it.”
“But that's not a good thing to talk about,” said the Emperor of China.”Best to be a Ghoul. We're afraid of nuffink!”
And all the ghouls around the coffin-wood fire howled at this statement, and growled and sang and exclaimed at how wise they were, and how mighty, and how fine it was to be scared of nothing.
Dessicated skin coated in blackened ginger, cinnamon, and mold-flecked dirt, with cumin, bitter clove, leather, and dried blood.
Banana Peel in a Graveyard
“We can put the food here,” said Silas. “It’s cool, and the food will keep longer.” He reached into the box, pulled out a banana.
“And what would that be when it was at home?” asked Mrs Owens, eyeing the yellow and brown object suspiciously.
“It’s a banana. A fruit, from the tropics. I believe you peel off the outer covering,” said Silas, “Like so.”
The child – Nobody – wriggled in Mrs Owens arms, and she let it down to the flagstones. It toddled rapidly to Silas, grasped his trouser-leg and held on.
Silas passed it the banana.
Mrs Owens watched the boy eat. “Ba-na-na,” she said, dubiously. “Never heard of them. Never. What’s it taste like?”
“I’ve absolutely no idea,” said Silas, who consumed only one food, and it was not bananas. “You could make up a bed in here for the boy, you know.”
A banana peel discarded among tombstones and crypts.