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Out of Darkness
A presence, I swirled around. There my gaze fell on a shadowy figure in the distance, which seemed to have emerged from the darker edges of the woodland. Advancing in my direction, it looked as though it were gliding rather than walking, a step above the mossy beds. After gazing upon the thing for a moment in shock, I suddenly grew nervous, and broke into a run. Going through this action I wasn’t clear myself whether I behaved out of sheer terror, or the fear of something I dare not mention.
The moon, constant, watching, was shining through the thick foliage overhead creating a pattern on the forest floor, while the trees loomed around me. For a time I pressed forward through this scene, until I came upon a small clearing where a more omnipotent moon seemed to light the bramble laden ground. At the threshold to this patch of woodland I halted, having gathered my wits about me I pondered “This is foolish it could have been an apparition, a trick of the mind.”, but I knew what I saw, no reasoning could avoid the stark truth.
Slowly, but with every ounce of precision I could muster, I turned. There, in all its devilish glory it stood, I cringed. Suddenly it let out a terrible, earsplitting shriek, and the thing charged forward towards my personage. In dismay my reaction was delayed in
Coming, though when I recovered I turned to run to the clearing but then stumbled falling into the brambles.
Almost upon me, I heard the sound of a sword being drawn from its sheath. I crawled towards the clearing in a panic. I made it a few feet from the edge when it emerged as well. The moonlight reflected off the sword (a scimitar), but the gruesome figure still was consumed by shadows, like the charcoal smoke of a burning fire, it stung at my eyes, and filled my lungs; making each intake of breath excruciating. I let out a sharp cry that only someone whose end they know has come can scream.
I awoke in a cold sweat, gasping for air, for I still felt the smoke in my lungs, but breathed in none. I looked around in a panic to find the source of my lack of air, first the window, open to the night to perhaps catch a breeze but I felt no movement, the dirt floor, swept clear of loose debris, and finally the clay hearth which had gone out and smoke had filled the room. I threw the coarse, brown bedding, I was within, off and ran outside to check the chimney. No smoke was coming out “It must be clogged.” I thought frustrated. I watched the moon, waxing thin for it was almost dawn, and I glanced around at my surroundings the sheep in their pen fast asleep, the barn with the smell of sweet hay and fowl drifting to where I stood, the covered well, the long, green grass of the pasture, and looking beyond, the forest stood more menacing than ever. Realizing I was shaking I went inside.
I opened the door to let the smoke out, and when it was gone I looked inside the chimney and found it had collapsed so I cleared it away. I made a small fire and set some water on to boil for breakfast. Then decided to start the day early, so I slipped on a stone gray dress of rough wool, pulled on my worn leather shoes, tied a white apron around my waist, and with an exasperated sigh tried smoothing out my long dark curls. A knock
Came upon the door “Adelaide are you awake?” a man’s voice called out. Startled for a moment, I didn’t respond “Adelaide?” he repeated sounding a little worried.
“Aye, come in Kalar.” I called out realizing who it was. After entering he put the pile of kindle he had brought in the corner, and gave me a concerned look. “Good morning brother!” I said cheerfully, ignoring the stare of his dark eyes as I went over to the stove to put on some porridge, “Breakfast will be ready soon, so hurry with your morning chores.”
“I’m already finished; I was hoping to talk to you… I heard you screaming last night Adelaide, did you have another one of those dreams?” he inquired, staring at me all the while.
Ignoring his question I pointed to the table and said “Sit, I’ll pour you some tea.”
“I know you heard me. Just listen to me sister. These dreams aren’t just nightmares, I think that you are having some kind of visions, and...”
I interrupted, “You are just being supersti…”
“I was skeptical the first time, but these dreams having being going on for almost five moons and I am concerned! As your older brother I can’t stand to see you in this state any longer, I want you to see the village councilmen, and if not for your sake then mine.” He retorted.
“But!” I stuttered. “Please Adelaide” he said softly taking my hand “It has to stop.” Begrudgingly I agreed, but was put in a foul mood indeed, I didn’t like being fussed over. After breakfast I began the short walk to the village to see the councilmen. Passing by other’s cottages,
and land, flowers of blues and pinks (for it was summer and everything was in bloom), and at my favorite chestnut tree I stopped under for a moment, and gathered some of the smooth brown nuts (which had fallen early this year) in my apron to roast for supper tonight. “Good day Adelaide!” a voice shouted. I looked up from my task and on the road I saw my friend Sage waving wildly. I waved back heartily and beckoned her over. She came over and I greeted her “Good day Sage, how goes it?” I said happily. My friend Sage’s appearance matched her personality; wild red hair, freckles, and wrinkled green dress from running over; she was someone who always was good for a laugh.
“Today is such a beautiful day! I have decided to make a holiday of it, no chores for me today, care to join me?” she said with jubilation.
Laughing at her carefree attitude I turned her down gently, “I can’t today Sage. I’m terribly sorry, but I’m on my way to the village, and today’s laundry day.”
You could see the disappointment on her face, but after a moment her eyes lit up and she told me excitedly “I could take a break from my holiday to help you with laundry! Then we could enjoy the day together.” Proud of her insightfulness, she beamed.
“I still have to go to the village though, and that could take a while...soo even if you did help me I don’t think we could finish in time, I’m sorry to disappoint you Sage.” I explained slowly, feeling guilty for crushing her plans. “Ohh. Well that’s fine, if you’d rather visit the village than accompany me.” She said in a pout. “Why are you going to the village anyway?” she inquired; curiosities making her forget her tantrum.
“I’m going to see the village councilmen.” I said cautiously for Sage was an avid gossip. Her eyes lit up at this juicy tidbit of information, “Why is that? Has Kalar fallen ill?” she inquired. I then explained to her in as condensed a manner as possible about my dreams, and my brother wished that I would see the councilmen.
“I didn’t think Kalar to be superstitious!” she exclaimed.
“He has reasoned himself into it I believe. I am only going to please him however, for he will fuss, and worry until I do.” I explained.
“Though still, I’m not sure if going to the village councilors is the wisest choice in a situation like this.” She said arrogantly.
“Don’t be foolish, I’ve lived here since I was a wee thing, they aren’t going to think me mad.” I retorted, though at this I started to question if this was the best course of action.
Bidding her farewell, I departed from beneath the chestnut tree to complete my journey to the town hall where the councilmen advised during the mornings. Upon my arrival I discovered that through my trudging through the dusty road the hem of my worn gown had been thoroughly dirtied. With a scowl I dusted myself off as well as I could, smooth down my ringlets and with a deep intake of breath I entered the town hall.
I told my name to the attendant, and sat upon one of the oaken stools by the door to the room where they met. With apprehension I twiddled my fingers in my lap, plaiting, and unpleating my apron while I waited for my due turn. Thinking to myself all the while “Is this a wise decision, perhaps I should have refused Kalar’s request and tried to persuade him that I was perfectly fine.” “Adelaide, sister to Kalar, please come forward.” the attendant announced in a clear voice. Slowly rising I smoothed out my skirts and advanced into the judgment room.
Three men were seated around a table with intricately carved designs of the night in all the different season. The moon seemed to beckon to me though, never differentiating in seasons, while the rest of the indentations showed detailed branches of trees showed the new buds of spring, full leaves of summer, falling of autumn, and the stark nakedness of the branches in the winter, the moon mesmerized me in a state of inapprehension. When the man (on the far right) with a beard as fair as the wheat of harvest greeted me, “What do you seek from we, the councilmen, miss?”
Not hearing I didn’t respond for a moment, when he repeated his question another time I apologized for not being more attune. Then, trembling, like a leaf blown by a strong wind; I related my experiences, dream by dream, night by night to the councilmen. Then directing my words towards the man who had spoke to me before I concluded, “I don’t expect you to believe me, I don’t quite believe it myself.”
With a deep intake of breath, the elder (in the middle) of the group gazed at me for a long moment. His icy eyes seemed to pierce my very skin, I shivered. Finally he
spoke in a loud commanding voice you wouldn’t expect of someone with an arch in their back, and thin strands of soft white hair, “I suddenly have a sharp pain in my heart, my child, for I fear we’ve found what we’ve been searching for”
“No, she couldn’t possibly. I don’t believe it.” The other councilmen burst out. The elder held up a hand to silence them. “It is what it is.” He remarked slowly to them, then directing his eyes at me he continued, “Many moons ago, since before you or I were born, the world was tormented by shadowy demons. It was chaos, farms were ravaged, families were torn, constant war waged over land thought “safe”, and the our race was slowly withering away being pushed into the corners of the earth soon to be exterminated of by the creatures of the dark. Then one day, in the midst of all this violence a stranger came to our village asking for food and shelter, and when he was asked how he would pay for this service he told them he would banish the shadow demons into outer darkness forever. Some would laugh at him, others would regard him only with scorn, but no one believed him. After many encounters with people such as these in a fury the stranger marched the center of town then standing upon a riser laid a curse upon us and the rest of our world, “To prove myself to everyone of you with little faith, I shall vanquish these demons, though mark this; in a hundred moon’s times they shall rise to ravage this world once again. I think myself a good judge however and shall give you a fair chance. One will rise among you, and if you can differentiate this person from the rest, also if they prepare; the chosen will save your souls, but if naught you shall be destroyed one and all.” Though people listened while he said these things, they went back to their trades, and the stranger disappeared unnoticed. In five moon’s time the
monsters and the horrific things they had brought upon us mysteriously disappeared. The people then remembered what that stranger had said that day, and related to the other
villages was had occurred. A meeting was called and men came from far and wide to decide what should be done. There it was discussed and concluded that all they could do was keep a close watch on the people of the village through a council system and this could perhaps help find this chosen one. For generations we have been waiting, looking for signs, but now we can cease our search.”
“I don’t understand. What do you mean?” I stuttered, and though frightened of the answer I knew I was bound to receive, I prepared myself for it.
In a decided voice he stated, “You are the chosen one Adelaide, and we rest all our hopes on your shoulders.” Though the answer unnerved me, I quickly tried to calm my quivering and straightening my shoulders replied, “I shall try to live up to the hopes of my people.”