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The Darkness Unveiled
A tall dark man, hidden by flowing black robes, floated effortlessly through a remote forest. His piercing grey eyes scanned his surroundings as he passed, shining from the light of the waxing moon. With every inch forward, his hand twitched. Words of an unknown language escaped his thin lips, echoing off the countless trees closing in on all sides as he moved deeper into the harsh environment.
With a hissing breath, he came to a sudden halt, and his eyes widened and moved faster. His hand rose, slipped away from his robes, and revealed the bony, scarred tools of his trade. Pointed nails reached under his hood and lowered it, exposing his face.
Flowing black hair fell heavily to his back, framing his thin features. As he breathed, his jaw gently rose and fell, revealing a set of sharp, crooked, yellow teeth. Scars stretched across his face like graffiti, covering his cheeks and eyes. Another hiss and the hood was drawn over his head, his face consumed by darkness once more, and he continued on his path.
The dim light of the two moons slowly faded as the oaks towering above grew closer together. Many creatures could be heard, some rustling through the damp leaf littered soil, some shaking the branches above, as they moved to get a closer look at the intruder. Climbing steadily, the ground began to roughen as the looming mountains ahead made themselves known, rocks sticking out at awkward angles.
Cliff faces started showing through the tree line, progressively becoming steeper and smoother, and still the figure moved further up the slope without hesitation. A great wall rose up as he came to a halt and gently touched to the ground, his feet sinking slightly into the moist dirt. The trees above cleared slightly, the smooth wall’s surface cutting a line through the impenetrable branches. Red moonlight shone through the gap.
His eyes flashed across the wall, scrutinising every inch of the surface. A long, bony hand emerged once more from his robes, his index finger finding it’s way onto the stone. As if tracing something clearly drawn onto the surface, his hand flowed gently and outlined a circle. With a sudden thrust, his palm hit the centre of the shape. A strong beam of light carved itself into the rock face, outlining a doorway. Bright yellow light was thrown in all directions, illuminating the land and trees around him. The scurry of animals could be heard above and below, trying to remain hidden from this unknown force.
A great crack echoed through the valley below as the outline in the stone wall broke. The door swung inward, grinding against the floor of the chamber beyond. The light faded as quickly as it had appeared, and he stepped over the threshold. A familiar grinding noise echoed across the walls as the door behind swung back into place. A great flash of light, and all was dark.
Shadow seemed to consume all life. It appeared as though no light had graced this chamber, no living being had entered its walls for centuries passed. He raised a palm to the air before him and softly spoke the word “abadus”. A small ball of fire exploded into the air, floating inches from his hand. He clenched his fist and drew it towards his chest. The fire complied and flew to his side, the flames flickering as they moved through the stale air. Once more, he began to tread heavily as he progressed further into the depths of the encompassing darkness.
The flames flitted as he moved, his hand now resting again at his side. His breathing sounded more defined in the enclosed space. He tilted his head from side to side, twitching his nose as he tested the air. The walls changed from stone to damp earth and back again as he pressed on. Finally, a deep voice echoed across the walls and he came to a sudden halt, frozen in mid step.
“I did not expect you so soon, Rakah...”
“Times change old friend, as do people it seems,” came Rakah’s raspy voice. It was cold and rough, as though it had seen centuries of pain. “You knew I was coming?”
A pair of yellow eyes shone through the darkness as a stout man, robed in the same manner, stepped from the wall into the dim, wavering light of the flames. He held his hand before him, lightly clutching the air. “You move like one of them, Rakah. Do you have no shame?”
“Unfortunately, I lack your finesse, and you my pride.”
A low chuckle escaped the hooded man, though his composure remained perfect. He advanced slowly as he eyed over his intruder, and he flicked his finger toward the ceiling. An amulet bearing a pentagram fell from Rakah’s robes. “So you still wear the symbol, still follow the old ways… Those times are gone, there should be no reason to dwell on them.”
“I use the old ways, Aran, as they have not yet failed me.” A grin appeared on Rakah’s face. “Tell me, has your new lord taught you any tricks, or are you still as weak as you once were?”
Aran’s face hardened and anger swelled in his eyes. He closed his hand into a fist, and shook with rage. A demonic scream came from Rakah as he fell heavily to the ground, pure agony tearing across his face. “You will not speak of her so!” Aran screamed, trembling as he moved closer. He loosened his grip slightly as he approached.
Gasping for breath, Rakah strained to raise his head to behold his attacker. Aran’s robe fell during the attack to reveal his face, gleaming in the flickering light. Aran’s features were smooth, unscathed, his hair drawn back in a mess of dirt and grease.
“Her?” Rakah s'n-word'ed. “She obviously doesn’t care what happens to you Aran, has she forgotten she left you in this hole?” His face now showed a strange curiosity. “Or do you stay here willingly, hiding from those you betrayed?”
Aran clenched his fist once more, and screams of pain rocked the chamber walls. Silence fell as his hand loosened, and Rakah dropped to the ground again, gasping for breath. “She is more powerful than you will ever know,” he spat at Rakah. “You and the rest of your cult would be wise to never show yourselves again. You were all banished for a reason.”
A flame seemed to flash through Rakah’s eyes as he looked up. Another scream ensued, though now from Aran. The fingers on his attacking hand bent and twisted out of shape, the bones audibly cracking and shattering. He dropped to the moist floor clutching his wrist as Rakah rose slowly and stared menacingly at him. “It would appear she had not taught you well enough, old friend.”
Aran lay writhing, his screams now no more than soft sobs. He gathered himself and managed to push off the ground and onto his knees.