Steven finds his normal live spinning out of control because of his not so normal past.
| Deep in the night, a silent and deadly shadow stalked through the darkness. With its heightened sense absorbing, every minor detail of its surroundings. It knew exactly where its target was and it kept silent pace with its prey. Flowing like some sinister liquid mass it moved in and out of the full moon light it matched its prey step for step. Moving through the night like a wisp of death, it's thickly padded paws masking any sound of its movement. Its heavy dark grey fur absorbing all the light of the moon and showing nothing but a ghostly silhouette in the background of the forest it hunted. Without any thought to distract keen mind from its, its instincts told each paw were to be place avoiding any leaves or twigs that would give it away to it unsuspecting prey. It was a ghost of the night, appearing to have no form. Appearing one instance only to disappear the next through the dense cover. As it stalks through the brush, it could smell the musky scent of the object of its hunt. In its mind's eye, it could see its prey as if looking directly at it. Suddenly a slight movement off to its left caught it shape eyes. Pausing it waited and watched for the perfect opportunity to deliver the killing blow. The wolf crouches low coiling its powerful body like a tight spring, preparing to strike. Its own heartbeat pounding in its ears, a fiery primal need overtaking all control and compels him onward with no thought. With anticipation building, it posed to spring. Moving ever so slowly the deer eased out of the shadow of a large oak tree. Lifting its small head its large ears swinging back and forth, as its instincts tell it something is not as it seems, slowly the creature returns to grazing in the full moon light completely unaware that its life was only moments from its end. Nothing but silence and the soft crewing sounds of the grazing deer filled the forest. Like a bolt of lightning and with deadly accuracy, the wolf sprang from its concealment, fully extended, jaws spread wide. The deer raises its head suddenly looking for the soft rustling sound that broke the night. With eyes opened wide and frozen in place with mind numbing fear the deer looked up in time to see the last sight it would have in this life. A resounding thud was the only noise as the wolf snaps shut it jaws and the slight snap as the deer's neck broke at it base. With blood dripping from its maw and the fire of blood lust burning through its veins the wolf throws back its head and let loose with an ear piercing howl that echo deep into the night.
The early morning sun peeks through the blinds on an early spring Saturday morning. As the light hit Steven's face, he stirred from his dreamless slumber with a few choice words for nature's brightness. Slowly opening his eyes, the pain flared deep inside his head and he moaned in agony. Youth had its advantages speed, clear thoughts, strength but it also came with some pitfalls. The parties and nights of drinking sure did hurt the next day. As usual the night before was a hazy after image and he could not remember making it home to his bed. Rolling over in his bed, he stared at the ceiling for a moment and worried that he could not remember anything. His memory loss was something that had just recently started to occur a few nights a month. Even though he was only 25 he had considered slowing down on his social life as his body was apparently trying to tell him something. There was nothing more disturbing then not being able to remember where you were or what you had done. Kicking the covers off he made the long journey to the bathroom to relieve himself. Looking in the mirror, he saw the day old stubble of his unkempt face. Damn he thought as he turned his head back and forth examining the short beard that had appeared overnight. Another new development in his life was the sudden rapid growth of his facial hair. Seemed he had to shave more and more. Looking closer as he finished his morning business he noticed a touch of dark red in the corner of his mouth. Moving closer he reached up and something dry flaked away and landed in the sink. Had he bitten his lip in the night and not remembered that either. Opening his mouth, he examined the interior. Slight traces of red liquid were still in the folds of his mouth and a sudden taste of coppery blood almost made his stomach recoil. With a look of disgust, he reached for his brush and tooth paste and decided today was a good day for a cleaning. Lifting his right arm above his head, he gave himself a good smell and decided that maybe he could go another day without a shower. Another advantage of youth was the lack of modesty. It saved time and energy not always having to shower, wash clothes, or pay attention to make sure his clothe matched. Spitting the toothpaste into the sink and rinsing his mouth, Steven smeared deodorant onto his pits with a smile of satisfaction. Splashing some water on his face, he turned back to his bedroom where on his way he accidently kicks the doorframe "Damnit" he yelped as he hoped up and down on one foot. Well this day was starting off just great. Sitting down on the bed, he examines his pinky toe for damage. Finding nothing but a little redness, he grabs up his clothes from the floor and gets dressed. Glancing at the clock, he was luckily up and had just enough time to grab breakfast from the kitchen and then off to work. The kitchen looked like a garbage dump with dirt dishes, clothes, and wrappers everywhere. Looking around the room, Steven let out a long sigh. He really needed to clean up this mess, but work called and he was about to be running late. Grabbing a pack of toaster pastries from the cabinet, he rushed out the door and headed for his car. In the back of his mind, he hoped it was going to start this morning. The pale green paint was faded and the engine skipped, but it got him back and forth and he loved it. He had gotten the old Toyota from his best friend Mark 3 years ago. Mark had driven it into the ground and was going to junk it. The interior was faded and torn, the steering wheel was missing chunks out of the foam padding and entire inside smelled of a stale beer from too many adventures from their high school days. Steven had seen an excellent opportunity to get a free ride so he begged Mark for the car. Mark had finally agreed and after a couple hundred bucks to a mechanic friend of theirs to get the car going, Steven had his first car. With a turn of the key, a smile spread across Stevens face as a puff of smoke erupted from the tail pipe and the engine roared to live. As he pulled out of his drive, way it hit him that the roads were usually empty for that time of day. Usually by now, the work rush was on and traffic was starting to back up at the traffic light. Pulling onto the on ramp, he noticed the same lack of traffic was true for the number 9 that lead him across town. There were a few cars here and there but for the most part, it was extremely light. Making great time, he made work in 5 minutes when it always took 15. Mark had gotten him a job at a local shipping and receiving company where he worked. Steven, not wanting to make his friend look bad had thrown himself into the job. Once he had regained his desire to live, he had used the job with Mark to distract him from the loss of both his parents. Arriving at the building where he worked as shipping and receiving clerk, Steven noticed the parking lot was nearly empty. What in the world was going on that no one was here today? Looking down at his watch, he saw he was right on time. Normally the parking lot was full by now. Making his way across the lot, Steven's confusion deepened as he approached the side employee entrance to the warehouse. Just as he reached the door his lifelong friend and co work Mark was coming out.
"Damn, Steve where the hell you been?"
"Home man, where is everyone?"
Mark got a strange look on his face and seemed to shift as if he was uncomfortable.
"Dude its Saturday, where have you been? Nelson was pissed you just didn't show up, um he fired you on Tuesday." Nelson was their supervisor, he had gone to school with them and had been friends with Mark for years.
Saturday, how in the hell was that possible. It was just Monday yesterday. This sounded like one of Marks infamous jokes.
"Ha Ha funny man, really where is everyone?
Mark was always the one telling jokes and picking at Steven. Even though he was the second most important person in Stevens's life, sometimes his jokes were just irritating.
"Man listen, I really sorry about all this, but you got to get your shit together. You just can't not show up and then expect to still have your job."
Steve looked Mark in the eyes, with a cold realization he saw that his friend was not joking. Steven stared at him for several seconds as his mind tried to process the implications of what was happening.
"Wait how is that possible. I was just here. You and I just went to Logan's last night. Right?"
Mark shook his head and looked to the ground.
"Steven that was Four days ago. I been by your house and calling your phone every day since. I was just about ready to report you missing."
A wave of nausea over took Steven. How in the hell had he lost so much time? He thought back to the missing time he had experienced over the past month or so. A chill spread up his spine. Was this all related somehow. Stevens's knee suddenly became weak. This was like some crazy alien abduction movie come to real life.
"You ok man you don't look so good? I just came by to grab my phone I left in my locker yesterday."
Stevens's eyes looked around wildly. He had no idea what had happened to him.
"Damn it Mark what the hell is going on, I swear man yesterday it was Monday and I don't know what has happened to me since then."
Mark looked at Steven with suspicion in his eyes. Had Steven fallen back into his destructive ways and gone on a bender? Mark did not want to believe it, but what else could it be? People did not just disappear for four days and not have a reason. It had been nearly 6 years since Steven had come back to real life and try as he might, Mark could not bring himself to believe that Steven had just all of the sudden returned to that way of life. Mark took a deep breath and looked at his friend.
"Man that does not make any sense at all. How do you just disappear for four days and not remember anything? "
Steve head began to swim. He reached out to his friend to steady himself. Maybe he was right. Maybe he was sick somehow. But he did not feel sick; he did not even feel tired. What was he going to do?
"Damn man you need to go to the hospital like now." Mark said with concern on his face.
Steve steadied himself and took a few deep breaths.
"Na I'm ok. Hey listen do me a favor. Tell Nelson I will be in to see him on Monday afternoon. I think I'll see the doctor Monday morning and see if I can find out what's wrong with me."
"Yeah sure buddy, want me to come over and hang out for a while and keep you company?" Mark asked.
Steve looked back at his friend. What was happening? He had to try to find out what happened to the last 4 days.
"Thanks Mark, but I think I'm going to go home and see if I can figure out what happened over the last few days."
"Call me if you need a friend. I and Sarah can come over and we can eat dinner or something together."
At the mention of Sarah's name, Stevens's body tensed up. When they were younger she would follow them around, always hang out and making eyes a Steve. Back then, it was just gross thinking about ever being with her. They had practically grown up together and she was like his little sister. She on the other hand had always loved Steven and had wanted to constantly near him in those days. Then they grew up and now things between him and Sarah had evolved and he did not have the heart to tell his friend about the secret he kept from him.
"Let her know I said hello. I'll catch up with you tomorrow sometime"
Steven headed back to his car, his head was in a fog and nothing seemed to make since. He pulled inward, going over everything he could remember over and over again. Frustrating him even further when nothing new came to mind. Without even realizing it he pulled into his drive way and made his way up the walk way to the front porch before he saw the car parked on the street in front of his home. The faded blue Volkswagen had a crushed in front fender that was a result of a long night of drinking and stupidity. He knew the car well and concern filled him. How was he going to explain his absence?
Steven entered his home and looked around. Nothing looked out of place and it seemed not a soul was there. He made his way down the hall way and stopped dead in his tracks at the entrances to the kitchen. What had earlier been a disaster area was now clean and organized. The table was clean with place mats set in place at each seat. The dishes where washed and stacked in the strainer next to the sink. Steven let out an internal groan. With the event of this morning and the mystery of his missing time, he was not sure if he wanted to deal with his visitor today. Truth be told, he just wanted to be alone and try and figure out what was happening to him.
Steven hollered down the hallway heading towards the back of the house.
Sarah step into the doorway from his bedroom and Stevens's heart skipped a beat. Sarah was in her early 20's and extremely fit. She exercised regularly and it showed in her muscle tone and hourglass shape. Her long blond hair fell down on to her shoulders and ended in the middle of her back. She stood in the doorway with a mischievous grin on her face. Her deep blue eyes seemed to glow slightly as she leaned against the doorway. She was the vision of beauty. The pale blue silk robe hung open showing off her perfectly rounded breast. The matching shorts hung loosely from her waist and were completely see through. Steven was stunned into complete silence. All the stress from his eventful morning melted away and he moved into Sarah arms. In one clean motion, he scooped her off her feet and moved into the bedroom. A sudden flash of guilt flashed into Steven's mind. If Mark ever finds out about Sarah and him....as quickly as the guilt rose up in his mind it disappeared as Sarah let a small moan escaped throat. Something deep inside Stevens's core began to stir. As he laid Sarah on the bed, she allowed the robe to slip to the bed. Steven felt his control begin to slip away as some primal animal force inside him slowly took over. He crawled on top of Sarah and kissed her savagely. She in turn reached out and began removing his clothing as quickly as her hand would allow. Time started to slip from Stevens mind as he gave in to the need of some inner dark desire.
He awoke with a start as somewhere deep in his mind a howl echoed through his mind. Beside him, he could hear the soft breathing as Sarah slept peacefully. Bits and pieces of the morning flashed through his mind but try as he might he could not recall him and Sarah being together. Before today, he would have just accepted it was part of the great sex, but now it was a point of concern. His missing 4 days had made him very much aware that he was missing time in his life and this somehow related to it. Slowly as not to wake Sarah, Steven rolled out of the bed and reached for his clothes. Standing in front of the mirror in the bathroom Steven took a deep breath and looked at himself as he wondered if he was losing his mind. As if on cue, a whisper in the back of his mind pushed forward.
"You must come" A fleeting woman's voice whispered.
Steven jumped and looked around the bathroom. Dear lord he was going crazy. Now it was voices in his head. What was happening to him?
"Steven, are you ok love"
Sarah's voice startled him and he jumped again. Running his hand through his hair, he looked back out the bathroom door to see Sarah sitting up out of the bed with a concerned look on her face.
"I'm fine dear. Just a bad dream." Steven lied.
Sarah moved to get out of bed. Her naked body moving gracefully.
"You hungry? I'm going to make so sandwiches"
"That sounds great; I'll be out in a minute and help you."
Steven looked up into the mirror. Even though he had shaved that morning, he could see his beard coming back already. Man his hair was growing fast. As he turned to head off toward the kitchen, Steven could not help but wonder if these were his final days, was he truly losing his mind.
The night returned and the full moon Once again shown high in the midnight sky. The living shadow moved swiftly in and out of the darkness. This time it was not alone and it could sense two of its pack members close by. As one, they moved in on their prey. While in the past their prey had been nothing more than food, this time was different. This prey was an enemy of their kind and it made the hunt even more urgent then others. In its mind, it could feel the thoughts and intents of his pack members. As one, they moved in closer to the kill. Slowing to a walk all three crouched low and moved through the brush with deadly silence. Their target had stopped and was just ahead in the clearing. The first to arrive at the clearing was the young, new wolf. It crept close, staying as low as possible to conceal itself. From the bushes, it could see the lone figure standing totally still in the center of the clearing. In his mind, he could hear the urges of cautions from his eldest pack member. The figure in the clearing was cover from head to toes in an all-black forest cloak. He stood stone still in the exact center of the clearing, his back to the small hunting pack. The young wolf gathered himself ready to strike. The primal need to kill this being roared in his soul and took over him at his most basic level. On the fringes of his awareness, he could hear the repeated warnings to wait until they were all in position. The young wolf fought for control over his instincts. He knew he needed to wait for everyone to surround their target to give them the best chance to take him down, but his soul screamed for the blood of this lone figure. With reckless abandonment, the young wolf sprang from the bushes with lethal intent. Time slowed to a crawl as the wolf sailed through the air. Jaws spread wide and razor sharp claw full extended, the wolf gave over totally to the need to kill. As he made contact with the figure he bit with all his strength and at the same time brought both claw together. With overwhelming glee, the young wolf gave over all his being to the kill. He waited expectantly for the warm coppery taste to fill his mouth, for the soft leathery rip of flesh, as he was sure this being was his. The wolf met nothing but air and an empty cloak. At the last second, he realized his mistake to late. The grey wolf hit the ground on the other side of the clearing hard and became wrapped up in the empty cloak as he rolled across the dirt. Striking out with all he had the wolf freed himself from the cloak and leaped to his feet. Slowly he turned until at last he found the lone man on the far side of the clearing. He stood taller than any man the wolves had seen. From head to toes, its body was covered in black leather armor. Its skin was as white as freshly fallen snow that was a complete contrast to it midnight black hair. It was a formable looking figure. It most striking feature was its solid red eyes.
"You Sheik are so predictable." He said with a wicked chuckle.
The young wolf slowly circled trying to get a better angle on the figure. Suddenly, from behind the eldest wolf made his move. With blinding speed and total silence, it sprang from the shadows. With little effort, the man turned and backhanded the wolf in midair sending it sailing back into the woods. From nowhere the third smallest wolf sprung. It had lain down in the low brush at the very edge of the clearing and had remained unnoticed until the right moment. Bring its jaws together it latched onto the man angle. A howling scream erupted from the man's throat as it looked down with murderous hatred in his eyes. The young wolf reacted on pure instinct and launched himself for the man throat. The small young wolf was its mate and his love for her made him react with reckless regard for himself. Without warning, the man with the wolf still attached to his angel disappeared. The young wolf landed and turned to search the clearing. To his horror, the man stood to the far side of the opening with the small wolf by the throat, suspended in midair. She struggled with all she had until the man turned his head to her. With a flash of darkness, the small wolf stilled and went limp. Glancing back at the young wolf with a sadistic smile on his face the man brought his free hand up and a strange eerie green glow encompassed his fingers. The small wolf did not respond as the man's free hand came up and touched it head. The young grey wolf stood frozen in fear as he watched the man free hand pull a ghostly shade from the wolfs body, that appeared to be the very soul of the small wolf. Finally, as the man pulled the sprite free it evaporated as a lone ghastly howl filled the air and then was gone. The small wolfs body fell to the ground, lifeless. Seconds later the body of the small wolf began to fade as a dark mist seemed to envelope its body. When the mist finally dissipated the small wolf, body was gone. As the old wolf emerged beside him, the young wolf stepped towards the dark man. A sudden growl from the old wolf stopped him in his tracks. Glancing sideways the grey wolf could see the blood running down the old ones face from a cut above the eye. He lowered his head and took a step as the old one sent him a mental reprimand. With a wicked laugh, the dark man spoke with his eyes glowing red.
"You will be next young one. My master sends his greeting old man"
With that, the man disappeared in a flash of purplish darkness.
Steven woke with a start to someone beating on the front door. Looking over at the clock, he wondered briefly, who was beating on his door a 4 a.m. rolling out of his bed his head suddenly decided to take him on a roller coaster ride as the room spun out of control. He could barely lift himself from the bed. He felt like he had been beaten with a baseball bat. The beating at the door became more urgent and he could just make out someone's muffled voice on the other side.
"I'm coming give me a damn minute for Christ sakes." he yelled angrily.
He was not sure who was at his door but he knew for sure they were in for one hell of a verbal beat down when he got to the door. Steven stumbled through the hallway to the front door. Grabbing hold of the knob he jerked it open and stood there staring Mark square in the face. Shock froze Steven where he was. The look on mark face spoke of something terrible and all his anger at the early hour vanished. Mark head was hung low and he was as pale as a ghost. Blood ran down his face on the left side from a cut that was just above Marks left eye. Dirt covered his face and his labored breath rattled in his lungs. No sooner had Steven opened the door fully than Mark collapsed into his arms. A brief flash of a nightmare flashed through Stevens mind.
"Holy shit Mark what the hell happened?' Steven helped his friend in through the door way and gently sat him on the sofa. Mark laid back and rested his head on the couch with a haughty look in his eye.
"Sarah...." Was the only work Mark got out before his eyes rolled up in his head and he passed out.
"Mark...Mark where's Sarah? What happened?" Steven asked as he shook his friend. An icy cold chill filled Steven guts as Mark words sank in. Sarah was in trouble. Steven jumped up from the sofa and rushed off to the kitchen. Opening the cabinet above the stove, he brought out a first aid kit. He grabbed a sandwich bag from the drawer right next to the stove and filled it with ice from the freezer. Rushing back to the living room, Steven carefully placed the ice pack on Marks face above his eye hoping the cold would shock Mark awake. When that had no affect, Steven opened the first aid kit. Inside he found the usual, Bandages, gauges, Band-Aids. Buried in the bottom he found to greenish colored breakable vials. Crushing one in his hand he waves the broken vile under Marks nose and Mark woke with a start.
"Woo, damn that shit stinks." Mark protested trying to sit up.
"Oh hell..." Mark grabbed at the ice pack on his head and slowly leaned back on the coach.
"What the hell happened Mark, and where is Sarah?"
Mark regarded Steven with his one good eye. The truth would be dangerous to him and Sarah both. Steven was not ready for the truth, but what choice did he have? If they did not do something Sarah would be lost forever and the darkness would have a foothold in this world too.
Mark slowly considered his options. Steven was nowhere near ready to learn the truth of his true origins. Mark had always known this day may have come, but he had always hoped it would not. They had escaped at the last minute from certain death all those years ago and now that nightmare had returned to kill them all.
Mark hung his head.
"Look there are something's I need to tell you that are going to be hard to believe. But before I start I ask you don't interrupt me until I'm finished and that you keep an open mind."
Steven sat up a little straighter and glared at his friend.
"Ok Mark but is Sarah ok?" Steven asked with a little too much concern in his voice
Mark let the ice pack drop from his face with a look of suspicion in his eyes.
Realization was slowly creeping into Mark's mind. Damnit he should have known. A lot of things became clear he kicked himself for not recognizing the signs sooner, Sarah's disappearance some nights, Steven's uncomfortable reaction when her name was brought up.
Steven shifted uncomfortably beside his friend. He quickly looked away from Mark as guilt welled up in his heart.
"Look, if she is in trouble we need to do something now. If something happens to her I will not be able to bear it," Steven said as he turned back to Mark with a tear started down his face.
Marks face turned a crimson red and he look away from Steven. In the back of his mind he had always know that Sarah had feelings for Steven but she knew damn well the danger it would bring to him if she ever acted on her feelings.
"For Christ sakes, really? You and my sister? When the hell were you guys going to tell me about all this?" Mark said as he threw the ice pack across the room. Steven shied away from his friend as if Mark was going to hit him. Mark looked over with eyes wide. His anger with the two quickly melted as he began to see how much this secret had bothered his friend.
"Look it's not like I am saying I am not happy you two found each other it's just that with everything going on and everything that is fixing to come out, it complicates things."
Steven looked over to his friend, tears rimming his eyes.
"We already knew that, that was one of the reasons we kept it from you." Steven said.
"Steven trust me you do not know, Sarah knows, but you have no idea how complicated this whole situation just became."
Steven stared off into space in thought. The two friends sat for several minutes in silence. Mark knew now that he could not wait as they planned. His heart ached for the pain of what Steven must be feeling. He hated the situation he was in and hated even more the confusion he was about to add to Steven's life. So much for trying to easy Steven into the truth. He was going to have to lay it all out there and hope Steven could accept it all at face value.
"Listen there are something's you need to know. First, and most importantly, Sarah needs our help. She is being held against her will and if we do not act soon she will be lost to us."
Stevens face turned crimson red and he started to rise from his seat. Mark reached up and placed a firm hand on his shoulder.
"There's more, just be patient."
Steven relaxed a little. Mark could tell this was going to be difficult for him to accept. Everything he believed, everything he thought was just fairy tale and was fixing to be brought to life.
"Steven, there are things in your life that you just do not remember. When you were just a little boy a man brought you, me, and Sarah here and found a family for us that would love us like their own. David and Karen were not your true mother and father they were the ones that were entrusted with you. They knew what I am about to tell you but were swore to never tell you because it would put all our lives in danger."
Steven looked into the face of his longtime friend with a look of total puzzlement.
"What do you mean they were not my parent, and what the hell does that have to do with Sarah missing? We can't just sit here while someone has her, we have to go find her." Stevens voice kept growing louder and louder as he spoke.
"Steven, calm down and listen to me." Mark insisted.
Steven turned away and took a few deep breaths. He knew Mark was trying to help, but his overwhelming gut feeling said he had to find Sarah and free her. Even though he had never been able to admit it to himself before, she was everything to him and he could not go on without her.
"This world, this life you have lead is not who you really are. Tell me have you had the dreams?"
Steven looked at his friend suddenly. How the hell did he know about the dreams?
Shock over took him. A cold chill ran across his body.
"Yes" Steven whispered.
"The missing time that you can't account for."
It wasn't a question; it was a statement. Steven stared at his friend. He knew what was going on with his missing time.
"The other day wasn't the first time was it?"
Shivers went straight up Steven's back. He had never told anyone about this stuff, not even Sarah.
"All these things are related Steven"
"What the hell is wrong with me Mark? How do you seem to know about things I have never told anyone?" Steven asked his voice barely a whisper.
Mark sudden burst of laughter startled Steven.
"Wrong with you, no my dear boy there is nothing wrong with you, you are a blessed one. We all are, you, me, and Sarah are something more. "Truthfully," Mark paused "We are not of this world. We are the protectors of all that is good and wholesome."
Steven mind locked up. What was Mark saying? Images of running through the woods at night, of hunting with his family, of attaching the man in black.
"The man in black?" Steven asked
Mark nodded his head in confirmation. A Sad look crossing his face.
"All real my friend."
"Who is he. What does he want with Sarah?"
"before I can explain who, I have to explain the why and where."
A look of confusion crosses Stevens face. He was having a hard time wrapping his mind around any of this. If what mark said was true, then he could guess where this was heading and that made him think that maybe that blow to head had affected mark more than he thought.
Mark looked Steven directly in the eye and with a stern serious look on his face.
"you are not going to believe any of this at first, but as the next few days go by you will learn to accept your part in this fate."
Mark took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be easy but there was no other way given the time he had.
"this world you see around you is only a small part of the total of existence. In the beginning there was nothing but the void. From the void came beings of all universal power. Because our universe is governed by three basic traits each of the Eternals as they are call, possessed one of these traits.
The first took the form of a women and took up the trait of wisdom. When the realm was created she endowed its creature with intelligence and thought so they could make decisions for their selves and learn from their experiences.
The second eternal took the form of a young boy and took up the trait of courage. When the realm was formed he endowed its creature with cunning and bravery so they could hunt and defend their selves and their loved ones.
The Third Eternal took the form of a middle aged man and took up the trait of power. When the realm was created he endowed its creatures with the power of will and foresight so they could organize and rule their selves and others."
Steven hung his head a shook it back and forth
"that's the craziest shit I have ever heard Mark. What does any of this have to do with us?"
Mark placed his hand on Stevens shoulder. He could see this was blowing him away.
"Patience my friend we are getting to that part. Trust me Steven you are going to want to hear the rest."
Steven thought his head was going to explode. What in the hell was Mark trying to tell him? None of this made any sense.
"As time passed all was in harmony. The eternals formed the world and made it a place that was a paradise. On it they created animals and plants that lived on the land, in the seas, and some that even lived in the air. Finally, they created man to tend to and protect the world the Eternals had created."
Mark paused to look up at Steven. He was staring off into space lost in deep thought.
"This world was perfect, a paradise where all creatures, including man lived in harmony and peace. Life existed like this for a millennium and the Eternals were pleased with their creations. At some point after that first millennium things began to change. It started of course with man. He began to try and dominate it environment. Soon he began to cut down the trees, kill the creature, and finally war broke out. It was Gia, the eternal of wisdom that figured out what had happened and it almost cost her, her existences. She confronted her brother Ganoes the eternal of power. He had become corrupted by his power and he had pasted this to man. Ganoes was furious to be found out and unleased his rage on Gia, if not for Theos, the eternal of courage stepping in to save his sister she would have been destroyed. Together Theos and Gia bound Ganoes and banished him to a realm of darkness they created to protect their creation. Little did they know but the damage had already been done. Ganoes' influence would not be stopped. Even banished to a separate realm could not stop his influence. Across the boundaries he influenced man and war and cruelty spread like a disease. In a desperate attempt to save man Gia formed a third realm. This realm was a place of twilight. It would act as a buffer between the Light realm and the Dark realm and lessen Ganoes' influence in the world of man. This was partially successful. Ganoes figured out he could still influence man by giving his Corruption physical form and sending them across the realm where they would manifest in the light would as whispers, encouraging man to strive for power over all in his world."
Steven eyes were as big a coins. He was on the edge of his seat to hear how the eternals had tried to save man. Mark could tell then that at least he was keeping an open mind and absorbing the story at face value.
Gia seeing this new development place 8 Sages in the twilight realm and Bestowed on them the power required to battle and destroy these shadowing beings and stop them from crossing over. As more time passed the number of corrupted shadows increased and the Sages being formed of great wisdom, decided that they would require help to complete their task. Pooling their powers together, and with the guidance of their God, Gia, the Sages created a new race called the Sheik. These beings were warrior type of pure souls. They had abilities to help them battle the corrupted shadows. For one they could cross the boundary between realms so they could track down corruptions in the light world and destroy them. They could see these shadows, even in the light world where they were invisible to all others. Most importantly they could change their form to battle the shadows one on one. Their form was decided to be that of a great black wolf. Wolves in the Light realm were deemed to be some of the Noblest of creatures and were loyal to each other in a way that few other creatures were."
Stevens mouth hung open in amazement. Mark knew the rest would have to wait. They had to get going. If Sarah had any chance at all they had to get to her soon.
"The rest will have to wait. We are running out of time and have to be on the move."
"Wait so you are telling me that I am one of these warrior wolf people and that I am from some other realm?" Steven asked rising from his seat.
"Somewhat, yes. But your story goes deeper than that. Listen I don't have time to tell you all right now but I promise to answer all your questions as we go." Mark said as he too rose.
"For now we must be on our way."
"Where? Where is it we are going and how do we get to Sarah?" Steven asked
Mark reached up to check that his head had stopped bleeding. Turning to Steven with a wicked little smile on his face.
"To the twilight my friend."
Sarah woke with a start. The last memory of the dark man holding her by her throat flashed through her mind. She rose suddenly franticly looking at her surroundings. She was in a small dark room with no windows except for the small one in the door. Slowly she rose from the floor and crept to the door to try and peer out. Fire light from an unseen torch flashed through the small barred window.
"Hello" her voice barely a whisper echoed of the walls.
Movement from the hallway caught her eye and suddenly a blow to the door sent her scurrying to the back of the room.
"Quiet in there" a husky voice demanded.
"Let me out hear" Sarah screamed.
Laughter erupted from the hallway as the guard turned and walk away. Sarah was left alone in the torch lite twilight of her room. Looking around she could see that the room was made of stone and mortar with small bright yellow crystals embedded in the wall every few feet. Rising slowly, she moved to the nearest wall and reached out to touch one of the crystals. A small bolt of energy jumped from the crystal to her hand and Sarah pulled it away. That when she noticed her hand. Holding it up in front of her face, Sarah felt a shiver of cold rush up her spine as her stomach twisted in on itself. As she stood in the darkness of her room she could see the slight glow surrounding her hand. Holding it closer to her face she could see the door on the other side of her hand. Looking down a small whimper escaped her lips as she realized her entire body was translucent.
From the corner of her eye she saw a movement. Slowly turning to face it, wisp of shadows seems to move from the room and concentrate in the corner until a form began to take shape. Sarah moved away, fear taking hold of her as the shadow grew took on a life of its own, finally coming to life and stepping in to the flickering torch light cast throughout the room. The shape was man shaped with 2 arms 2 legs but it was slightly hunched over. It stood taller than any man Sarah had ever seen. As it stepped into the twilight Sarah could see that it eyes where jet black jet black orbs that reflected none of the light of the room. Sarah swallowed her fear and stood straighter in a defiant posture as she recognized the Dark Man.
"What have you done to me Demon?"
The Dark man seemed to consider her for several seconds before answering her with a voice that was hollow and slightly slurred.
"You know why you are here Princess, My Lord Ganoes wants you in his service."
"Never" Sarah screamed. With a sinister laugh the Dark Man took a step toward Sarah.
"Your Gods have abandoned you and it is now my Lords time. He will break through the barrier soon and once he has the twilight he will take the light realm."
The Dark Man reaches out his left hand as a haughty yellow glow begins to emit from the stones around the room.
Sarah fell the power fill her and she arches her back as a fire pain engulfs her body. Suddenly her translucent body shifts to its wolf form. Slowly her wolf body grows in size and begins to darken to a deep black. A howl of pain erupts from her throat as she throws her head back and then collapses to the room floor. Minutes pass as she lies there whimpering in wolf form. Slowly she rises from the floor as her dead black eyes open. Hate and contempt fills her being. Slowly she steps forwards and knells at the Dark Mans
"Now Princess you are mind and together we will bring these worlds under our control"
Excitement fills Sarah's Being at the thought of doing her lords bidding.
Laurel dashed from boulder to boulder keeping as low and quiet as possible. Off in the distance she could hear the howls of the Dark Wolves on her tail. She had chosen to take the canyon pass up Sage mountain in hopes of throwing of their pursuit. Her plan had only been partial successful as it had slow her pursuers down. As she round a sharp bend in the canyon a black shape flew through the air towards her from out of the shadows. With blinding speed, she unsheathed her dagger at her side and spun at the same instance. As the shadow passed her she sliced with all her strength cutting deeply into the Dark Wolves side. With the momentum of her spin still carrying her she unslung her bow and notched and arrow. Before the Dark Wolves paws even touched the dirt she let fly and buried the shaft of her arrow in the Wolves chest. As the tainted wolf body hit the ground, a brief flashed enveloped its body and just as quickly disappeared. In the wolves placed now lay a young man with golden blond hair. Laurel paused for only a second. Looking up with the shaft still extending from his chest and tears in his eyes the young man looked into her eyes. Laurel rushed to his side, cradling his head in her hand.
"Thank you my Sage." The young man said with his last breath.
Laurel laid the young man's head down and closed her eyes.
"May Gia take you into her loving embrace." She prayed as she used her finger to trace out the sacred triangle symbol of their Goddess on to the young man's forehead.
With a single tear streaming down her cheek Laurel turned and headed back out in a dead run. She had to reach the Temple of Sages before the Wolves caught up to her.
As she reached the end of the canyon a large split in the stone face appeared. At the base of the fissure were the stairs that lead to the temple entrance. With renewed energy she dashed as quickly as possible across the backed soil. As she approached the bottom of the stair a small noise caught her attention. Turning quickly, she saw the shadows of the rocky terrain come to life as several Dark Wolves charged on to the canyon floor. Each Dark Wolf was the basic shape as a regular wolf, but with greatly exaggerated features. Their coats were as black as the deepest night and reflected none of the light of the twilight that was natural to this land. Their fangs much larger than a regular where razor sharp and dripping with saliva. Their Bodies were outrageously muscular and powerful as they moved across the canyon floor.
Laurel grabbed her bow from off her shoulder and let fly with 3 arrow within seconds of each other. The first two found their mark and planted deep into their targets brains. With bright flashes the Wolves hit the ground and were dead. The Third missed as the Dark wolf it was heading for dodged to the side at the last second. As if on que the remaining wolves spread out as to be harder targets. Laurel seeing this moved up the stairs and set out a fast as she could up the stairs. She knew it would be hopeless. There was no way she could make it to the safety of the temple before the wolves caught her. Frantically looking up the trial for anything to slow them down she spotted a large pile of rubble wedged in behind a fallen tree. No doubt from a rock slide that was common in the spring time when the rains where heaviest. Focusing her thoughts, she allowed the energy to build inside her. As she drew closer to the fallen tree she concentrated energy into her right hand and let it slip free. A blue ball of energy shot from her hand and struck the fallen tree just as Laurel passed exploding the tree into a million tiny fragments. Rocks and rubble broke free and started down the stairs just as the Dark Wolves were reaching the bottom. Sliding to a sudden halt, most of the Wolves leapt out of harm's way. One however was not so lucky. As the mass of debris reached the bottom the wolves were slow to react and in seconds were crushed. With a satisfied smile on her face she turned and continued on to the Temple. It was another hour of hard climbing before she reached the top. As she came over a low lying ridge the Temple of the Sages came into view. It had stood atop this mountain for more than 6000 years. Created by the Sages in the First Years, the temple had been their home and base of operations. Now she was all that was left of the once great sages. All the others had been killed or captured by Ganos' followers. The only option left was for her to slip into the light realm and find the remaining Sheik.
As Laurel entered the temple a voice deep in her soul screamed warning to her. She reached out with her senses and search for the danger. After several minutes of searching She pulled back to herself with nothing to be found. Cautiously she moved deeper into the temple. The portal room was in the deepest part of the lower temple. Making her way through massive rooms and endless corridors she finally approached the door to the portal room. Again her inner voice warned of danger, this time with more force. She reached out again with her senses probing every crack and crevice of the portal room trying to discern the danger. Even though she could not sense anything in the room she was on guard for anything. Her inner warnings had never been wrong before and she was not going to make a mistake this close to her objective. She slowly reached out and gently pushed to door open. Staying low she stuck to the shadow as best she could as she slipped into the room. Surveying the perimeter nothing looked out of place. In the center of the room stood the portal to the light world. The large oversize ornate mirror, its frame was of a dark wood and had detailed carved reliefs of scroll. With its entwined vines and natures creatures standing out from the polished wood, it was a thing of exquisite beauty. The mirror in the center did not reflect its surroundings, instead it reflected a swirling mist with a dull greenish glow. With a final look around, Laurel reached into her pocket and pulled out the silvery portal stone that would allow her to pass through. As she stepped forward to move into the portal shadows around the room solidified as Dark Wolves surrounded her. Laurel made to move for the portal knowing it was her only chance to survive. From her left side a shadow launched itself across the room and collided with her before she made it to the mirrored reflection. Laurel screamed in surprise as she tumbled across the floor, the portal stone hitting the floor at her feet. Spring back to her feet she ready herself for the fight with a silent prayer to the Goddess. Nothing short of a miracle was going to save her this time. Laurel readied herself to meet her Goddess face to face.
Steven with one hand on the dash and the other with a death grip on the door handle hung on for dear life as Mark slung the car around another corner going way to fast. The tires squealing their protest as the struggled to maintain their grip on the road. Marks home was on the other side of town and he had wasted no time getting Steven moving out to the car. After their conversation had ended Mark had Steven gather up what camping supplies and gear he had around his home and packed it all into the trunk of his car and away they went. Mark said little as they sped across town to the portal Mark said was hidden in the basement of his home. Stevens mind wandered to Sarah. Even though he was trying his best to hide it from Mark he was in torment over her situation. He had to put forth all he had to focus on the task at hand. His heart ached to save her. Stevens eyes welled up and he had to fight the tears back. He loved her more deeply than he had realized and if it cost him everything he would save her. As Mark turned onto the street of his home, Steven caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Looking up Steven saw a man walking down the road under a bright street lamp. As they passed the man Steven did a double. As the man passed Steven watched and for just a second could see a shadowy apparition floating just above and behind the man. As they passed Steven turned to look again and there was just the man walking on down the road. Steven stared after the man for several more seconds before the realization of what he just saw hit him.
"Was that?........" Steven asked turning back in Mark direction.
"Yep, that was a shadow."
A cold chilled formed in Stevens stomach. Had he really just seen a Shadow from another realm.
"They're not that hard to see when you know they are there." Mark commented.
Steven ponder that as Mark finally pulled into the drive way of his home. It was a regular looking One story ranch with grey vinyl and little white shutters. Mark hit the brakes bring the car to a sliding halt in the gravel drive way. They both sat in the car for a few seconds.
"You ready for this?" Mark ask as he opened the driver's door.
"Are you kidding, I'm not even sure I believe all this. But I have known you for all my life and if you say it's so, then you either completely lost your fucking mind or there's a magic portal in your basement to a different realm. Either way, here I am."
With that said they gathered their things from the trunk and heading inside. At the end of the main hall way Mark pulled out his keys and began remove what must have been Ten locks securing the basement door. As the last lock was removed Mark turned to Steven and reached into his front pocket.
"Whatever happens do not lose this. It is a portal stone and is the only way to use the portal."
Steven looked down at the silvery stone as Mark placed it in his hand. It was the size of a lemon and had a deep reflective silver finish.
"Stay close, the other side is the Temple of the Sages and I'm not sure what may be there when we come through. If things go wrong I can protect you, but only if your near."
Steven swallowed hard and nodded his head at Marks instructions.
Descending the stairs Stevens was not sure what to expect, but his nerves where on edge. As that reached the end of the stairs he noticed that a soft yellowish glow began to fill the room. As the turned the corner an oversized ornate mirror stood in the middle of the room. The swirling grey mist had a yellowish glow and as they drew closer the glow increased in intensity.
'You will be a little disorientated by this, but it will pass quickly once we reach the other side."
With this final warning Mark turned and step through the mirror. As if he were stepping into quicksilver the gray mist surrounded him and with a dim flash of yellow he was gone. Working his nerve, Steven thought of Sarah and his desperate need to get to her, she was counting on him to come to her rescue and he was not going to let her down. With one final look around Steven stepped into the portal. A cold tingle crawled across his skin as he closed his eyes and the world exploded around him. It was like having the entire world jerked put from under you yet you did not fall. Flying a million miles an hour Stevens being was stretched until it felt as if he was being ripped apart. As suddenly as it began then it was over as Steven exploded back into the world. Noise and lights swirled around him. The world spun uncontrollably around him and nothing would focus. Falling to his hands and knees Steven took several deep breathes before his head cleared enough to hear the growling and shouts around him.
As his senses returned Steven looked up and what he saw chilled him to the bone. Four massive black wolves had a women cornered and she was fighting for her life. Two more wolves had turned their attention toward Mark and were stalking their way cautiously towards their position.
"Stay close to me." Mark said at barley a whisper.
Steven looked around, desperately looking for anything he could use as a weapon to defend himself. Without something to fend them off these monstrous wolf beasts were going to tear them to shreds. Finding nothing that would do any kind of damage Steven looked up to find Mark standing calmly between him and the advancing Dark Wolves. As the pair drew within a few feet a soft subtle glow began to encompass Marks entire body. A sudden flash of white light caused Steven to look away. When his vision cleared he almost could not believe what he saw. In the Place Mark had been standing now stood a dark grey wolf. The fur on the grey wolves back stood on end and a vicious snarl exposed the three-inch-long fangs. The grey wolf was a little more than half the size of the Dark Wolves but show no signs of fear or caution. With blinding recklessness, the grey wolf launched itself at the closest dark Wolf. With blinding speed, the grey wolf slashed at the first wolf tearing the side of its face with its massive claws. Without a pause it turned and rebounded of the floor landing on the second wolfs back as it stalked Steven. A tangled Battled ensued with Steven being unable to follow as it was all fur and teeth for several minutes. At the end of the of the life and death struggle the grey wolf stood over the mangled remains of the now dead Dark wolf. Quickly turning to the second wolf, both Mark and Steven realized it had not been standing by idly. It had moved itself passed the grey wolf during the fight and was now bearing down on Steven. The grey wolf had no chance to stop the Dark wolf and Steven locked eyes with the grey wolf in time to see it was hopeless just as the Dark Wolf attached. Steven dodged to the side just in time to cause the Dark wolf to miss but tripping over his own feet and landing flat on his ass. The Dark wolf would not be denied as it turned to deliver the killing blow. Steven knew it was over. From somewhere deep inside his soul something stirred. A blinding flash filled the entire room and was many time brighter than Mark had given off. A sudden deep piercing howl filled the portal room. All motion stopped as every eye turned to look at this new presents. Standing now in the center of the room where Steven had been now stood a wolf like none had ever seen. It was a large as any of the dark wolves and had the same body shape and similar build. Instead of the dead black eyes like the dark wolves were a set of sky blue eyes the same as Stevens. The most striking feature though was the pure white fur. The white wolf threw back its head and let loose an ear piercing Howl. With the howl a bright divine glow filled the room. The white wolf lowered its head and stood proudly and defiant in the center of the room as if daring the Dark wolves to come for it.
Laurels left arm bled freely from a claw mark that ran from her shoulder to her elbow.
She concentrated her power to that area to help her arm heal faster than normal. As another set of Dark Wolves charged in she let loose with a furious combination of moves that fended off one attach and landed a glancing blow to one wolfs side. No sooner had that attach been turned away than another set of wolfs moved in. As the new danger moved in closer Laurel gathered her power and let loose with a devastating burst of energy that struck the first wolf directly in the face. The dark wolf charged on passed and ran head long into the wall at Laurels back falling to the ground dead. Without warning a blinding white flash filled the room followed a second later by a piercing howl. All eyes turned toward the portal. Laurel had been so intent with her own battle that she had not been able to take stock of the new arrivals. What she had hoped was that the arrivals were the Sheik she was on her way to find. What she found when she looked was more than she could ever hope for. As her eyes met the eyes of the Grey wolf her heart sang with joy.
"Mark" escaped her lips as little more than a whisper.
Movement just behind Mark caught her eye. With a gasp of surprise, she saw a sight she never thought she would live to see. Standing directly in front of the portal with a haughty glow surrounding it stood a creature of prophecy. The White wolf stood proudly facing a single Dark Wolf that was stunned. The white wolf was as big as any of the Dark ones. With a mighty swipe of its massive paw The white wolf sent the Dark one sailing through the air, smashing against the far wall. At that moment Laurel took full advantage of the pause in battle and struck out at the closest wolf. At the same instance the Grey wolf leapt and tore into the next closest and within seconds was at her side. As they both turned to meet the next challenger they were shocked to find that all the Dark wolves where dead. The white wolf had moved through the remaining wolf like an unstoppable force, dispatching them all. As the Battle came to a close the Three stood and survived the damage. Laurel was in a state of shock as she looked from the White wolf to the Grey one. With a dull flash the Grey wolf transformed and Mark stood before her with a smile on his face. He looked almost exactly as she remembered him only older. As children they had been raised together. It wasn't until he had left for the light world to protect the Chosen that she realized that she loved him. Stepping forward slowly Mark waited to see what her reaction would be. Letting her daggers slip from her hands, Laurel rushed forward to Marks embrace.
"Thank the Goddess you are here." She said as tears filled her eyes.
Mark wrapped his arms around her and let out a small sigh of relief and his greatest hopes were fulfilled. With a small flinch, Laurel pulled away as Mark embrace touched her arm.
"Oh I'm so sorry." Mark said as his face turned red with embarrassment.
"Its fine. It will heal." She said looking deep into marks eyes. At that moment Laurels could not fight the urge to taste His lips. Rising up to her tippy toes she planted a firm kiss on mark. In shock at first mark stood ridged. That lasted only seconds as he too gave in to the need to be with her. As they held each other closely the white wolf slowly approached. Laurel reached up cautiously and placed her hand on its head. Accepting her friendly caress, the wolf began to lick her wounded are. At first laurel held her breath thinking the licking would be painful, but after a few seconds she realized that it was actually making the pain vanish with every lick. When he was done Laurel looked down at her arm in amazement. The wounds where healed, not even a scar remained. Bowing it head the white wolf backed away slowly and made its way over to the corner of the room where it curled up and fell asleep.
"Welcome back." Laurel said with a smile.
"Thanks. I know we both have a million question, but I think we had better find a safer place."
Laurel inclined her head towards the sleeping white wolf.
"How long will he sleep?" Laurel asked looking back at Mark.
Mark face changed to a look of concern.
"Honestly. I have no idea. He is just emerged and this is the first time I have seen him take his divine form."
No sooner had the words left his mouth than a bright flash filed the room. Both looked back and found that Steven laid curled up in the corner like a small child. Mark Stepped closer to Stevens sleeping form and knelt down just in front of him. With a gently shack Steven awakened with a start. Looking around wildly Steven back himself further into the corner.
"Hey man its ok, its me." Mark said as he tried to calm Steven.
"What the hell happened. One second I was staring down the maw of some huge black wolf certain that my death was at hand and the next I am lying here on the floor." Mark placed a hand on his friend's shoulder and gave him a reassuring smile.
"Things are changing quickly my friend and I know you need answer, but first we have to find a safe place to hold up."
Steven nodded his understanding and pushed himself up from the floor. Mark notice Steven keeping a wary eye over in Laurels direction and thought introduction were in order. Mark stepped aside and motioned her forward.
"Steven this is laurel and old friend that we can trust." Steven stared at her for a few long seconds before replying.
"Nice to meet you Laurel."
"As am I, Steven."
Mark breathed a small sigh of relief. He had hoped laurel would not make a big show of what Steven truly was until he had time to explain it to Steven.
"Gather you thing Gentlemen, let us leave this place it is no long the safe haven it once was." Laurel said as she bent down to retrieve her daggers. Mark and Steven gathered their packs and with a small nod laurel lead the way out of the portal room.
The group made their way through the halls of the Temple of Sages in good time. Before Steven knew it they were heading out the front gate and down the mountain on the longest set of stairs he had ever seen. He had not been sure what to expect when they reached outside, Mark had said this was a realm of twilight but the view from the temple court yard had momentarily take Steven breath away. As he stopped in his tracks and stared out over the valley below he was blow away at it ghostly beauty. The sky was filled with broken purplish colored clouds as a dim light from some hidden sun back lit them. It really did look just like the moment before the sun set from the light realm. Mark paused long enough to tell Steven that the light here was constant. No night time, no afternoon just the ever present twilight that never varied. After that little was said between the three as they dissented the mountain. Laurel would sometimes stop
them and have them hide among the boulders that littered the valley as she scouted ahead for hidden dangers, only to return several minutes later and lead them on to some safe place she had in mind. After a while the land began to level off and plant life began to appear and they reached the valley floor. Mark as on constant alert, continuously scanning the terrain for any incoming dangers. Their pace was slow but steady and the hours began to slip by in total silence. After what seemed like several hours of walking they came upon a small cottage set back off the trail in a clearing among the huge tress that had started to appear once they had reached the valley floor. It looked old and run down, but Steven guessed it would do for shelter. Just as they were about to enter it began to rain and the three companions made a mad dash the last several hundred feet to get inside.
"What is this place?" Mark asked in hushed tone.
"Do not worry it is safe here as long as we do not draw attention to ourselves, we should be fine." Laurel replied as she set her bow and quiver to the side. Inside the cottage was dimly lit from the twilight through the windows. Laurel retrieved a lantern from a hook on the wall and with a very muffled words that Steven could not understand the lantern sprang to life. The small front room had a table and a couple of chairs. A hearth sat in the corner for cooking and keeping warn. A set of small windows of the front side of the cottage let in what little light the twilight would allow. Steven dropped his pack alongside Marks and settled in to one of the chairs. He slowly looked from mark to Laurel who were standing by the hearth a little closer to each other than Steven thought was normal for to friends.
Mark grabs some wood from the firewood box and joined Laurel at the hearth. Together they wood to get the fire started and Mark produced a cooking pot and some dry ingredients for stew from his pack. Once he added a little water and set the pot to cook they all gathered with Steven at the table. Steven gave up his seat to Laurel, who under protest accepted it gracefully.
"Well done to business." Mark said as he looked to Laurel.
"What's been happening here since last we met? Are the Sages making head way against the corrupted?"
At the mention of the other sage's laurel turned her head as tears filled her eyes. Mark looked to Steven with concern written all over his face.
"When we were young and Steven was still just a child there was an attach at the Temple of Sages. Mark and Sarah where sent to the light world with you as a means to protect you from being captured or killed along with a Guardian named Thomas. You see there are other that live there that also help in stemming the corruption. Thomas found homes for you and then returned."
Mark nodded his head. He knew the story well. Being a little older than Steven at the time he had vague memories of the escape. The foster parents that had taken in Mark and Sarah had raised them as Guarding never keeping the truth from them.
"What you could not have known was what happen after you left. Ganoes corruption found its way into the temple. We were betrayed by one of our own. Several months after you left there was another attach from the inside, through the portal. The sages were caught completely by surprise and most of us perished. The few that escaped, including my mother, went into hiding. Scattered all over the realm we barely survived. "Laurels tears flowed freely now and Mark wrapped his arms around her. After several minutes she pulled away and continued.
"One by one we have been hunted by the shadows. My mother died saving me about a year ago and I have found no others since then. As far as I can tell I am the only Sage that remains. I was on my way to the light realm to find you when I was ambushed at the portal and you two appeared." Laurel stopped and stared off into space lost in her own inner turmoil for a minute. Suddenly she turned to Mark
"Mark where is Lady Sarah? Why has she not returned with you."
Marks face saddened and Steven Felt a fire burn in his insides.
"Things are a little worse than you know. Ganoes has found a way to get one of his followers across the boundaries. He came to the light world and took Sarah. We do not know what has happened to her."
"That's impossible, Mark. None of the Corrupted can pass to the light realm in Physical form."
"I understand what you are saying I thought the same thing, but I am telling you we were there."
Laurel looked to Steven who nodded his head in confirmation.
"This is bad. If what you say is true, then that means the second boundary is weakening also."
Steven had listen patently, but at the mention of Sarah he could not hold his tongue any longer.
"We are on our way to rescue her. I beg you, we need your help in finding her. Please I will do anything you ask." Steven blurted out.
Laurel looked to Mark with a shocked expression. Mark could only nod his head at her silent question.
"Steven your Love for her is plain to see even to one that does not know you." Steven face turned red with embarrassment. Was her really so transparent. He pushed the embarrassment away. He did not care who could all that mattered was getting Sarah free.
"Any idea where she is being held?" Mark asked.
"Maybe the Corrupted have a stronghold out by the boundary, but it won't be easy. The place is crawling with Dark Wolves and worse."
"I don't care if the entire Dark Realm is there we have to get to her." Steven said
"Now hold on Steven let's not rush in and all wind up dead. We need a plan." Mark replied
"I may know a way in but it could end up being more dangerous than the Corrupted." Laurel said.
"In the beginning Just after the three realms were created, Ganoes sent forth a creature of incredible darkness. It was meant to cross the realms and destroy mankind. If ganoes could not control them then no one would. But he soon found out this creature could not be controlled, so Ganoes abandoned it. Soon after it disappeared from this world and was rumored to have found a set of immense caverns near where the stronghold lies. If the rumors are true and we can find the caverns we may be able to transverse them and get in close. Be warned if we go this way, we may never make it to the stronghold. Our only chance is to slip in and slip out before the Wraith finds us."
"How far away are these caverns." Steven asked
"Two days from here. Steven do you know what you are." Laurel asked placing a hand on his.
Steven looked away and hung his head. Truth was he did not have a clue what he was and until he rescued Sarah he did not care. He did not sign on to be some savior all he wanted was the women he loves back.
"I know you guys think I am some divine savior sent here to rid this world of evil but I am not. I am just some guy that works every day and pays his bills just like everyone else."
Mark and laurel exchanged a glance.
"Steven I know I blindsided you with this. It was not my intension. We were to ease you into this over time and then reveal your destiny to you once you understood better. But know this is what you were born to do. You are here to save this world and in turn save your own. If ganoes eliminates the Sages and takes over the twilight, there will be nothing that stands between him and your world."
Steven was silent for several seconds. He did not ask for this, did not want this, he wanted his normal life with Sarah by his side. He dreamed of someday having children and growing old. This was a nightmare come to life. Why had he been chosen to be the savior? Why was he special?
"Mark I don't want any of this. You have the wrong guy." With that Steven stood up and walked out the door. He needed to clear his head. He followed the path leading from the cottage until he came to a small lake. Slowly he sank to the ground. Tears welled up in his eye and he damned his own bad luck. How had his life come to this? Guilt welled up in him as he thought of Sarah. It was his fault she was gone. Who knew what she was having to endure because of what he was. He looked out across the lake. In the twilight the surface was like a mirror reflecting the sky perfectly. A tiny ripple in the center of the lake caught his attention. Little by Little the ripple grew bigger. Suddenly a shadowy form broke the surface of the water and began to rise. Steven knew he should be alarmed but for some reason he felt oddly a peace. The shape grew large a brilliant glow began to come from the figure. The light was pure and white but did not hurt his eyes. As the form took shape, Steven could see it was a woman. As she emerged from the lake she slowly approached Steven. She was the most beautiful women Steven had ever seen. He was completely taken by her and unable to move.
"Hello Steven." Said a voice inside his head. The women continued until she was standing eye to eye with Steven. At some point he had risen from the ground without realizing it.
"I am Gia the Goddess of Wisdom." Gia reached up a hand and touched Stevens face. With the touch a joy filled him to the point he felt he would burst.
"I know the pain you feel my child, But fear not. The one you love is still with in your reach."
Steven struggled to speak but his mouth would not seem to work.
"Be at ease child I know what you ask and the answer is yes. You are a child of my own and you are destined to cleanse the Darkness from this land. But it must be a decision of your own choosing. Steven I am not here to force you to do my will. I only ask that you think of the others that your commit would save."
Gia reached inside here gown and pulled out a spark of light. She flicked her fingers and the small spark came to life. It moved around on its own until it landed on Stevens shoulder.
"This is Nia. She is what you would call a Sprite."
Steven followed the Nia around with his eyes until she landed on his shoulder.
"She is creature rarely seen by your kind. They have served the God since the beginning of time. She will help guide you through to your destiny." Gia turned and began to move back towards the center of the lake. As she moved she started to slowly sink back down into the water.
"Remember my child I will be watching over you and will offer what help I can. Ganoes is gaining power over all the realm and my influence is waning. Do not give up on what needs to be done, we are all counting on you." With that Gia disappeared and the lake was still again.
Steven sat back down on the ground as the feeling of peaceful bliss slowly faded. His path had just been set before him and he had a serious choice to make. Would he fill his role as savior or would he turn his back on all humanity and let the darkness take over everything he loved and knew?
Mark watched as Steven walked out the door. He rose to follow but was stopped by a gentle hand grabbing his shoulder.
"Give him some space Mark. He has been thrown into a world he does not understand. If we have any hope of him saving us he must come to see that what we do is in the name of the light."
Mark turned to face Laurel. It had been years since he had seen he but time had allowed her to grow into a beautiful woman. He felt his heart sing with the joy of being near her again.
Marks heart softened at the look on her face. She left little doubt in his mind that she still loved him, but was it right. They both knew that their love was forbidden by the code the Sages followed. The Sheik where supposed to serve the Sages and help protect Man. Laurel seeing the uncertainty in his eyes stepped in close and pushed up onto her toes and kissed mark gently.
"I have dreamed of your return for many years now. I had almost lost hope that the prophecy was true. I had almost lost hope of every seeing you again."
"It has been a hard life without you, but it was my duty to protect Steven. Now that I have returned and I don't plan on letting you out of my sight again"
Laurel pushed her body tighter against Mark, it felt right to be so close to him and she had dream for so long. After all the danger, after all the loss. Days after days of running and hiding from the corruption. Mark scooped her small form up into his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder as a slow smile spread across her lips. Moving to the back of the Cottage, Mark laid Laurel on the small bed in the rear corner of the small home.
Steven had been gone for a while and felt like it was time he returned and came to terms with what he must do. The Goddess had said he had a chance to rescue Sarah if he would only accept his destiny. With a look to his shoulder he stared at the small wisp of light that sat there.
"Have faith Steven, the goddess will protect you and guide your way. And with my help you will be able to save the Love of your life.'
Steven mind reeled as the words appeared in his mind.
"You seem to be awfully sure of yourself to be so small." Before the words had finished leaving his lips Nia launched into the air and a strange tingling sensation took hold of Stevens body. The next thing he knew he was flying through the air to land squarely on his back. Steven laid where he landed his mind idly wondered how he had ended up on the ground. Nia moved over to float inches above his nose.
"Question not the gifts that the goddess has given free. You are the first in all of eternity that she has revealed herself to directly. She ponders this decision for longer than man has walked this earth. I am a servant of the Goddess and will be treated with respect."
"Hey, woo, it was just a little joke. No need to go all crazy on me."
"This is no joking matter, Steven. The fate of two world rest with you. Now let us find your friends we have much to discuss and little time to save everyone."
Steven pushed himself up off the ground. As he did Nia moved and landed softly back on his shoulder. As they turned to start back towards the cottage a sudden wind gusted up from nowhere. A cold chill ran up Stevens spine as he noticed the complete absence of sound in the now still forest. No birds, no insect, even the water of the small lake seemed to quiet. Without warning an ominous shadow fell across the land. Darkness seemed to creep into every corner of the world as the wind continued to increase in power. Ahead of him a small point of darkness appeared. Mist and darkness swirled in a circular pattern as if a portal of pure evil was opening. With every passing second it grew in size. With a final flash of emptiness, the portal disappeared and the winds calmed. In the portals' place stood the dark man. His long block cloak rapped around him as to protect him from the light. His hood was pulled tight around his face, but Steven could see the fire red glow of the demon's eyes. Steven felt his hatred spring forth. This was the one that had taken Sarah from him. This was the one that threatened his world and his friends. The rage inside grew with each passing thought and Steven shook with the restraint required to hold it back.
"Easy young one, now is not the time." Nia whispered into his mind.
"Hello again Steven." The dark one said. His words were like small hammers. With every word Steven could feel his strength eroded away.
"Where is she? What have you done with Sarah?" Steven struggled to say through clinched teeth.
A slow rolling chuckle escaped the Dark man's lips. He stood silently staring dead on at Steven until his eyes wondered to the small wisp on his shoulder.
"Greeting little one. My master has told me of your kind, the service of the Goddess. Tell me, do you not desire to be free of your servitude? Why labor under her heel when you could be free and express you power as you wished."
"Save your breath Demon, I have seen what your freedom would cost me. I serve Gia by my own choice. Her Love is why I stay." Nia stated firmly.
"So be it. I think that Ganoes will be very interested to know that Gia has reinserted herself into the world of man. "
"Where is Sarah you beast. Release her now or so help me...."
"Or what human? You will tear me to pieces and send my soul back to the void. You do not get it do you? I am created of the void my dear Steven. I cannot so simply be dispatched back to be locked behind the veil again. The barrier is weakening with every passing day and soon my Load Ganoes will break free and all the worlds of man will burn." The dark man said as he slowly removed his hood.
"As for you beloved Sarah, she is fine. No harm has become of her." The dark man said with as a sneer crossed his lips.
"In fact let's have a little face to face, shall we."
With that the dark man raised his hands high into the air and dark energy began to gather to his calling. A dark portal similar to the first began to gather between him and Steven. When it was gone there stood in front of Steven a girl in a long black cape. Her back was to him and she stood still for several seconds. Her hair was as black as a moonless night sky. Something in the back of Stevens mind screamed at him as he began to realize that some was very familiar about this new comer.
"Hello lover." The girl said as she turned to Steven with a wicked smile on her face.
Steven took a step back from the shock of what he saw. She was dressed from head to toe in gleaming Black leather. Her once luscious blond hair was now jet-black as it flowed over her shoulders.
"No, it can't be. What have you done to her?" Steven cried.
The dark man stepped forward and placed an arm around Sarah's shoulders.
"She is my Lords newest recruit. I have brought her to end the threat that you represent."
Steven tried his best to pull himself together. This was spiraling into his worst nightmare.
"Why...Why am I such a threat, I am nothing special."
The Dark man looks at Steven for several minutes, before he let loose with a deep chuckle.
"You truly have no idea who or what you are. So much the better in a few minutes you will have no need to worry, you will be dead."
The Dark the man took several steps back away from dark Sarah.
"You know what is to be done my dear; do not fail my Lord Ganeos." He said to Sarah as the dark energy gathered around him and he was gone.
Nia lighted on Steven shoulder, "Steven, Listen." Steven was in a daze. How was he going to get out of this without dying or having to hurt Sarah? He did not care what the Dark man had said; He could not bring himself to believe that she would hurt him.
"Steven, she is not the women you knew. Ganoes has corrupted her mind. She will kill you unless you can escape. Do not underestimate her."