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Rated: E · Book · Fantasy · #2136501
Darkness settles on the land. A tale of powerful magic, war, gods, friends, and betrayal.
In the land of Elsano, there once was a time when everyone had become afraid of the dark. When darkness fell, vicious nightmares sprang to life. They said the night brought demons from beyond the grave, and ghastly figures to torment the living. With no real explanation, loved ones disappeared, leaving only fading memories.

All the Kings of all the lands decreed everyone should stay in their homes after dark, and sleep with torches and candles lit. The fires would keep the monsters away, they said. 'Light shall cast aside the darkness and its evils'.

As the evening fell on the village of Durn, people packed in their pets, friendliest livestock and wayward children. They lit candles and sat around roaring fires telling stories of heroics from a time far gone. But, everyone knew real fear could never be replaced with simple stories.

Houses were reinforced with stout oak planks and everything once left out was taken in. Modest log homes held double-barred doors and nary a window, as whatever was outside might catch a peek at whatever was inside. There was an instance where one man simply forgot to bar the door. This is the beginning of that story.

Chapter One - Little Things

Riko sat looking at his father as he cleared the table and carried the evening's meal to replace the mess he’d already cleaned. Riko, tiny as he was, stared intently while the long-haired man he called ‘Pops’ methodically flopped about their one-room house tidying up.

“It wouldn’t take so long if you’d help me clean up your mess.” Neither flinched nor remarked. Riko was a blond haired, blue eyed boy of five and his father, a young man of his twenties, wore a dust-covered leather apron home from work. “You might even acknowledge I’m alive,” he said.

Riko thought of his Mom every now and then, but Pops never spoke of her, never, not once did he bring her up in conversation. After she'd gone, everyone simply forgot about the two she’d left behind. A boy misses his Mom, especially at night.

“Do you think Mom is watching us?” asked Riko.

“I think you need to eat so I can clean up and put you to bed.”

“You never speak of her.”

“It’s bad, you know, and it’s hard to speak of the dead and… It’s just ill to speak of the dead, I tell ya.” He picked up the young lad and sat him on the table, bare feet dangling from the side. “Eat up, before it gets cold.”

“I don’t want to eat until you tell me about Mom.”

“Your Mom went out one night and never came back. End of story. Eat, I tell ya. Once in awhile, just do what you’re told.” He pushed a plate of steaming, grungy meat and potatoes toward the lad and laid a fork in his hand. “Now eat, before the ghosts come and get your skinny bones and grind them for their bread.”

“There’s no ghosts outside, is there?” asked Riko, pointing a fork at the door.

Pops smiled and picked up a glass of wine. “Tis things out there that’ll take ya away from me. I’ve never seen a ghost, but I know they’re there, just like the goddesses of the seas and land. They make this whole world go round and make all the little boys ask questions.” He ran a hand through Riko’s blond curls. “Eat and grow up strong and, someday you won’t have to fear the dark.”

“I don’t fear it.” Riko laughed, staring intently toward the door. He noticed the wooden beams to bar the door were standing to the side and didn’t say anything. They made good ramps for his toys during the day as he pushed a tiny wagon up and down their grooved trenches, and letting go to see it crash and flip. “Maybe, we’ll find Mom out there one night.”

“Maybe. Just mind yourself, and stay out of the dark.”

After Riko ate, he watched Pops drink glass after glass of wine. When his father’s chair fell still, he wandered over and pushed the door open. There wasn’t anything out there to fear, so the little boy took his wooden wagon to play in the loose white sand in the lit doorway.

Riko pushed piles of white sand into mounds in the cool night air. Every now and then, he heard sounds coming from the tree-line, nothing unusual that he hadn’t heard through the cracks in the wall. Low rumblings pricked the hairs on his neck, then his mind wandered toward the moon. He sat in anticipation of seeing anything peculiar in the wayward clouds flying beneath the bright cosmic ball.

A fox yipped and scattered off into the distance. A hooting owl brought with its voice demons of the night, echoing within his mind. The hair rose on the back of his neck again. Riko became mildly excited, shouting out into the night. "You'll have to do better than that to scare me." He stood and turned in place, nonetheless.

Suddenly, a small, dark hand reached over and took the wagon, causing the little boy to shudder and let go. A dark child stood in the shadows, almost as tall as Riko, but grinning from ear to ear. The boy hardly recognized him as being naked, nor was he very afraid.

“Hi. You want to play?” asked Riko.

The child didn’t say anything, yet offered Riko a hand. Naturally, Riko reached for the other hand and took the toy back. A dark hand quickly grabbed the toy and covered it with both hands. A faint light appeared around the wagon. Pulling his wrists apart, it was gone.

“Hey, not fair. Where’d it go?” asked Riko, searching the child. He reached behind Riko and pulled the wagon from behind his neck. “That’s a neat trick. But, can you do this?” Riko took the wagon, dropped to his knees and began pushing sand into a nice mound.

The shadowy figure dropped to his knees and played with Riko and the wagon. After a few minutes, the child began putting a hand to his own mouth, getting a good whiff of stale meat coming from the log home. Riko knew exactly what to do, ran inside and retrieved a half-eaten dinner plate. Then, he poured some water in one of Pop's wine glasses.

The child sat in the shadows and munched while Riko knelt in the dim doorway. After eating, the strange child used the glass to pick up and move dirt. All at once, he poured a mound of whispering light from the glass onto the ground. It became a tiny, standing version of himself until it slowly faded and disappeared, so he poured it again. This time, it waved and played in the dirt for a moment before fading. The next time, it became a larger version of himself, an entirely different person. Both watched the little man stand and silently talk through their huge, glaring eyes.

Riko took the glass and thought for a moment, closed eyes and shook his head. He held the glass above the ground and a faint light filled its rim and spilled from the empty goblet. A small, glowing woman stood, one wearing a white, flowered dress. “Mom,” yelled Riko. “That’s my Mom, I think.”

As the two continued to play, Riko moved a little farther into the doorway. The candle inside grew dim, the firelight settled and he began to yawn. Eventually, he stood and walked into the home. The hungry child followed. Not thinking, Riko picked up the wooden plank and barred the door, just like he’d seen his father do many times before, then slid into bed and pulled covers.

The next morning, a rooster crowed at the break of dawn. Pops yawned once or twice and crept to his feet. Looking around the room, he yawned again and noticed the mess. Everything had been strewed as if shoveled around the room and food scraps lay everywhere. There had been nothing spared nor sacred within those four walls.

“Riko, get up!” he yelled.

“What is it, Pops?”

“What happened?” he asked, pointing a finger to the various cups and plates, bones and bags littering the floor.

“It was probably him,” said Riko, pulling the blanket down, revealing a dark-skinned, naked child with long, pointy ears. He remained asleep, or, at least, he closed eyes until a hand went across his face to dim the light. He cuddled the blanket, pulling it up and over his head until he’d soundly escaped their stares. Long toes stuck out from beneath the covers and, as Pops drew closer, they too disappeared. He reached across and pulled the blanket down. There was nothing beneath it. The boy was gone.

“It’s a trick,” said Riko. “Give him a minute.”

As the two gazed onward, the dark-skinned child faintly reformed in the fetal position, though one black eye looked back and blinked.

“He’s my new best friend,” said Riko. "I'll call him Spot."

The rest of the morning would be spent explaining, complaining, begging and pleading and crying. Pops explained the little boy may have been an elf, with his pointed ears and facial features. He'd only ever heard of their existence from fairy-tales. "Give me time to think, son," he said. "We'll talk more about this later." Finally, Pops made his leave for work.

Riko and the mysterious child played throughout the day, though the skinny boy kept looking at the door. Pops left food for them and had been at work for many hours. Everything felt fine.

“Why do you have pointy ears?” asked Riko, using a finger and bluntly pushing his ear-tip. "Are you an Elf?"

The child pulled back and, as always, didn’t answer. He picked up the wooden wagon and found one of the oaken wheels wobbly. Taking a wine goblet from the table, he poured lit magic into it, reassembling the wallowed wheel center. He rolled it across the table and made noises while pushing it against a plate. The wheel came completely off this time, broken in half.

Riko sat and watched the child inspect the broken wagon. The elf closed eyes and began to whisper. It was the first noise he’d heard from his mouth and he noticed the little elf had glowing, pointed teeth. The tip of his nose curled upward when he chanted and large eye sockets closed for the first time as well. 'He doesn't blink.' he thought. Even the few hairs on his head moved like tiny snakes. Riko thought the boy was from another world.

The wagon began to exude a distant, foggy hue between his bony, fingers, and the wheel spun round and round its axle until reattaching itself. He continued chanting until the entire wagon became bright and shiny, a feat for small, whittled pieces of an old oaken limb. Then, pointy ears perked and tweaked as two black eyes opened and looked straight past Riko. There was a harsh knock at the door.

“Don’t say anything,” whispered Riko. The elf shook his head.

“Son.” came a sound behind the door. “Let me in, it’s Dad,” said an unfamiliar voice.

“Don’t move,” whispered Riko. The elf shook his head again and grunted when a long, silver object appeared.

A knife blade stuck inside along the door’s edge and pushed the wooden bar skyward. It fell with a loud thud, showering dust in all directions. As the door swung open, two men rushed into the room with determined looks in their eyes, both staring straight past Riko.

“Where did it go?” said one.

Riko quickly slid beneath the covers where the dark elf had already hidden. Both looked to each other. Large, glaring eyes stared back and forth.

“I don’t know those men,” whispered Riko as the room was being torn apart. "Don't... make... a... sound."

Dishes fell, closets opened and slammed, and his bed soon shook with the vigor of a trampling horse. Everything felt sour, the air, the blanket, the bed, everything out of place and streaks of numbness swept over tired limbs. Still looking to each other, the elf let out a half-swallowed shriek before being sucked out from the veil of their warm blanket. When Riko finally found the courage to peek, the room was empty, the door wide open for the world to see him standing there all alone.
#11. Chapter Two - Behind the Veil
ID #921419 entered on October 18, 2017 at 10:04pm
#10. Chapter Three - Redeeming Voices
ID #921744 entered on October 15, 2017 at 5:36pm
#9. Chapter Four - Tanos
ID #921962 entered on October 18, 2017 at 10:07pm
#8. Chapter Five - Where the Wind Blows
ID #922056 entered on October 18, 2017 at 10:19pm
#7. Chapter Six - Darker Days are Coming
ID #922202 entered on October 18, 2017 at 10:31pm
#6. Chapter Seven - Splitting Up
ID #922203 entered on October 22, 2017 at 10:32pm
#5. Chapter Eight - The Horde
ID #922515 entered on October 21, 2017 at 7:00pm
#4. Chapter Nine - Get Out Now
ID #922516 entered on October 21, 2017 at 11:37pm
#3. Chapter Ten - Into the Void
ID #922529 entered on October 22, 2017 at 9:19pm
#2. Chapter Eleven - Missions within Missions
ID #922530 entered on October 28, 2017 at 1:53am
#1. Chapter Twelve - Another One
ID #922531 entered on October 25, 2017 at 11:48am

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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/books/item_id/2136501-Shadow-of-the-Dark-One