Shadows, Part 1: Day of Darkness
And we're back! The time: Halloween, 2 months after my original stories. The place: everywhere. Hope you enjoy!
Part 1: Day of Darkness
The screams still echoed in Borinthas’s head. In the dreams of the sleeping inquisitor, the blood of the mutilated wood elves still dyed the snow scarlet, and the villages were still burning. Thousands were slaughtered, heaped upon the ice like sacks of potatoes, their lifeless eyes staring up towards the gray sky. Even in death, the elves kept screaming, screaming, begging for release from their torment… And Platos, that loyal Archon, was grinning from ear to ear, staring at the inquisitor with lidless, empty, pitch black eyes.
Borinthas snapped his eyes open, a panic rushing through his body. The dream had seemed so real; but then, they always did. It had been several days since the massacre in the forest, but in Borinthas’s sleeping mind, the elves were still screaming.
It’s just a dream, he told himself, just a dream.
It was dark in Borinthas’s residence, almost oppressively so. The moon should have been full that night, but no silvery light filtered in through the windows.
The elf stood up, shaking off the nightmare, and walked to the windows that overlooked the city. Pulling aside the curtains, he looked out over Illas Tiltos.
There was no moon in the sky. There were also no stars, and no sun. The sky didn’t look cloudy; it was just a dome of blackness, a featureless dark infinity that disturbed Borinthas in a way he couldn’t describe.
And in the streets of the city, there were screams. The inquisitor hadn’t imagined that. Elves were trampling over each other, trying desperately to escape from…something. The screams were deafening, even worse than in the dreams.
“Is it not beautiful?” a whispering voice asked from behind him.
Borinthas whirled around, and an elf was standing there. At first look, it appeared to be Platos; the neat, perfectly combed blond hair, the antique armor, the hard-set jaw. But on the elf’s face were beads of blood, pouring down from his forehead, painting the cheeks scarlet. And the elf’s eyes, they were black orbs of nothingness, almost the size of a fist, and leering with an unrestrained malice.
Then, the elf-thing grinned a hideous smile, his teeth stained with blood. “It is time,” he said in that same whispering, slightly gleeful voice. He took a shambling step towards the inquisitor, and then another. Bloody hands, with long nails sharpened to deadly points, seized Borinthas’s arms in an iron grip.
The creature brought his staring, black eyes close to Borinthas’s face. The bloodstained hands tightened around the inquisitor’s neck. Borinthas tried to scream, but his voice never left his throat.
The dreams were over. But the nightmare was just beginning.
* * * * * * * * *
As he walked from his manor, Sir Rael glared up at the empty, dark sky above him. He wasn’t one of the suspicious peasants, but this was starting to get to him. The sky was pitch black, and it was almost noon.
Rael looked different from most of the inhabitants of his castle; his skin was swarthy, his nose hooked, his large brown eyes overflowing with an odd mixture of hope and cynicism. His parents had arrived from some land to the south, but had died mysteriously. Brought up as an orphan in a small Southmont village, Rael had lived a turbulent life.
But now, he had an estate of his own, a place rich in culture and history: the ancient settlement of Tiraslee. True, the age-old stone wall was now little more than rubble, and the proud towers had long since crumbled to dust, but the stories remained; stories of honor and glory, when brave men fought against dark creatures and evil wizards.
The people of modern day Tiraslee, Rael thought, were very much removed from the heroes of old. Every time the knight saw the nervous, trembling peasants do some superstitious ritual or mutter a prayer to some god they had just invented, Rael was consumed by disgust. How could people descended from some of the greatest heroes of ancient Mythador end up as sniveling cowards?
One of Rael’s lieutenants rushed up to him. Rael liked this man; unlike most everyone else in this sorry country, he actually had a backbone.
But today, even this man looked panicked. “Sir!” he saluted Rael hastily, “Something’s approaching the town.”
“Something? What is it, man?” Rael was not known for his patience.
“I don’t know, sir! It looked like…like something big.” The man’s face was pale, and he seemed to be shivering slightly.
“But what is it?”
The man just shook his head. “You’ll have to see for yourself, sir. It’s by the north tower.”
Without another word, Rael rushed off, the poor soldier scrambling along behind him.
* * * * * * * * *
Arkantos, Valkyrie, and Daerior stood on a grassy hill overlooking their army’s encampment. Arkantos was wide awake, flushed with both fear and excitement, while Valkyrie and Daerior had tired, drooping eyes.
All of their eyes, both tired and energetic, were fixed on the sky. Its blackness was appalling; according to the wardens (who were never wrong), it should have been close to noon. But the sun was nowhere to be seen; a deep, impenetrable darkness was in its place.
“Any ideas would be appreciated,” Arkantos said in his gruff, yet also very elven, voice.
Valkyrie shook her head; her business was fighting and organizing, not dealing with random astronomical problems. All she knew was that if this kept up, the normally good morale of the troops wouldn’t last long.
Daerior, on the other hand, had a little bit of experience in mystical matters. Though he was a bard at heart, he had access to his own, though severely limited, brand of magic.
So Arkantos turned to him. “How ’bout it, Dae? You have any idea what this is about?”
The elf didn’t answer right away. He almost, almost, thought that he knew the answer. This darkness, it reminded him of…something.
At last, Daerior nodded slowly.
The bard looked at Arkantos, his eyes suddenly serious. “I need a horse. A fast one.”
The elven general peered curiously at Daerior for a moment, then nodded his head. “Alright. Will you be gone long?”
“Only a few days.”
Arkantos nodded his head. It was obvious that his curiosity was killing him, but he knew that whatever was going on, Daerior was keeping it to himself.
The bard started to walk off towards the makeshift stables. At the last moment, Arkantos called out.
“Will it get worse?” the general asked in a quiet, intense voice.
Without turning around, Daerior gave his answer. “Yes.”
That was so funny, I laughed twice.