The Darkest One - Book 1: Bringer of Night - Part One
Somewhere in Neopia 1,000 years ago...
They want me to explain myself on a single sheet of paper. How could you fit this on a single sheet, I wonder. Perhaps if you write really, really... really, really, really, really, really tiny, it might... nope, not gonna work. *sigh* Okay, I’ll try to write my life story as short as possible. *a snort and a glance at the guards* Yeah, right! You’d have better chance of me kissing a mutant slorg! Fine! If I were to write my life story, my tale, my excuse if you will for my past behavior, it would be in three words...
I was betrayed.
It wasn’t always like this. I wasn’t always a servant to darkness. I was once a hero in my time. Someone respected, someone loved... someone who wasn’t presently behind bars. *another glance at the guards* If I ever escape... if I ever even get another chance to live... I’d take it all back, every last bit of it. I wish it had never happened, but you can’t change the past... only the future. I swear it wasn’t my fault. It was hers.
It was her fault. Not mine.
*staring at the paper* Three sentences. And it’s still not enough. I wish I didn’t have to do this. If I could, I’d pretend it never happened. And if given the chance, I’d disassociate myself from any of it, even my existence in that city. If I went back in time, I’d make it so it never happened. But it did. And that’s why I’m here. I’m guilty, whether I was forced or not.
No, I did it. No one else helped me.
I always had the chance to fight back... but I never had the courage.
The ten year-old Christmas Bori obeyed his father’s command, racing through the ice caves like a madman. An explosion filled the air and part of the ceiling behind him fell in. He screamed and ducked behind an icy wall. The rubble crashed around him, but he remained safe... for now.
A titanic roar echoed through the caverns. The Bringer! Shivers ran down Seth’s back, though his powder white fur kept him quite warm. He turned and fled before the beast could find him. He’d seen it but once before and never again did he want to. Still the image of that monster tailed him: that putrid breath, those long tusks, and worst of all, its blood red eyes. Seth had no idea what it wanted, only that it had killed nearly all the Bori in his tribe. He was a survivor.
The Bringer of Night broke through the rubble and bellowed. Seth ran as fast as his legs could. The Bringer charged. The ground beneath them shook with each step the monster took. Seth forced himself to remain steady despite the small earthquakes. He could hear his father shouting for him in the distance, but he couldn’t go back, not unless he wanted to shake paws with the Bringer of Night.
He turned a corner and gasped. A waterfall flowed over the cliff side directly in front of him. He was trapped! He either tumbled to his death over the falls or was ripped apart by the Bringer. He glanced behind him. He’d take the falls. He crept over to the edge and looked over. Oh, why did he have to have a fear of heights? He looked back at the Bringer of Night and jumped.
Wind rushed passed his ears, sounding like a hurricane. He plummeted, readying himself for the impact. Wham! He nearly cried out at the sudden pain that engulfed him as the water crashed around him. His head broke the surface and he gulped down fresh air. As the river swept him away, he heard the Bringer’s roar in the distance. The Bori fought against the current, but it was too strong for him. He rushed downward, spiraling and careening out of control.
A dark faerie’s soft smile played across her face as fireworks lit up the night sky. Her black, blue-streaked hair rippled in the evening winds. The Shenkuu Lunar Fest was truly a work of art. Performers danced down the street, crowds cheered, and torches burned within the small merchants’ city. She listened to the music and laughter and watched the hundreds of dazzling colors light up. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful; there was no other way to describe it.
She lay back against the grass and watched with silent admiration. An odd noise suddenly came to her attention: a small splash and a bought of coughing! She sat up and looked over to the side of the river. What in Neopia? Why... it looked like a... neopet! She rose to her feet, opened her wings, and fluttered to his side. He sat up and gagged a little before gazing up at her with large golden brown eyes.
She pulled him into her arms. “Oh! You poor thing! Are you all right?”
He coughed a bit more, shivered, and nodded.
She smiled a little and wrapped her cloak around his frail body. “You look frozen to death! Where’s your family?”
Seth forced his chattering teeth to stay still long enough for him to say, “M-My family’s under attack!”
She gasped. “Where are they? What happened?”
“A... A monster is destroying my tribe... in the Ice Caves.”
She bit her lip. This could be a trap. She had all kinds of enemies, but how could she refuse? If anything, she had to do it for him. “I’ll get help,” she decided. “You can come with me. I’ll get you into something warmer.” Her wings lifted her into the sky and she flew south, passed the fire show. “What’s your name?” She had to keep him talking so she could make sure he wouldn’t pass out even when she was navigating.
“S-Seth,” he croaked.
“That’s a good name. I’m Desiree,” she murmured.
The Bori shivered again and hugged her close. Desiree felt a chill go down her spine. She’d never had someone hug her before. It felt somewhat good. She smiled down at his tiny form. “Don’t worry,” she whispered. “I’ll take care of you little one.”
Up ahead loomed a towering city. Home. She smiled a little at the thought of curling up by the fire in her armchair. She landed at the steps to the palace and stepped inside, heading straight for the Throne Room. She burst through the doors and came to stand before the king of her fair city... King Altador. He rose to his feet as she entered, as did all the others gathered around him.
The dark faerie bowed and stepped forward across the marble floors, her midnight blue gown washing over the stone like silk, the flame embroidery flittering as though they were real. “Your highness,” she said quickly, “I was watching the Lunar Festival when I came upon this lad. He was in the river and...”
A light faerie snorted. “That’s all very well, Desiree,” she scoffed. “Obviously you saved the poor thing. What’s your point?”
A mighty Peophin gave her a stern look. “Don’t be rude, Siyana. Let the faerie speak.” He nodded at her to continue.
“He said his home is under attack!” Desiree blurted out.
The king’s brow furrowed and he inquired, “Where?”
“In the Ice Caves,” she said.
The faerie called Siyana put her hands on her hips. The air faerie beside her shifted uncomfortably.
King Altador frowned. “Are you sure of this?” he asked in his gravelly voice. “Last time you claimed something like this it was a trap and Ixi raiders nearly ripped off Psellia’s wings.”
Desiree blushed and sat the Bori at her feet. “T-That was different,” she stammered.
A tall, lurking Grarrl grunted, “We protect OUR city, Desiree. Not theirs. Why shouldn’t his people be able to help themselves anyway? Don’t they have warriors of their own?”
Seth’s jaw began to quake, but he held back the tears. He would NEVER cry in front of the great Protectors of Altador. Desiree watched him. Both their gazes met. Her crimson eyes locked with his bronze ones. Desiree saw the terror and grief in the young one’s eyes and she knew. He was telling the truth.
“If you won’t help him... I will,” she said in a solemn voice.
The king took a step forward. “Desiree, for your own sake, I forbid you to.”
She locked eyes with him. “I must.”
“You said our duty was to protect and serve others. That is what I intend to do,” she said defiantly.
The dark faerie scooped the neopet back up and flew out the doors. She fluttered up to a balcony and set him down on the marble floors. The room attached held a single canopy bed, an armchair, wardrobe, and fireplace. Nothing more. Desiree wrenched open the wardrobe’s doors and grabbed a simple T-shirt. Seth waited patiently as she slipped it over his head.
“Good. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Get on my back and we’ll be off.”
He hopped on, right between her wings and watched as she lifted them both into the sky once more. The cool night air whisked passed them, drying Seth’s damp fur and lifting his spirits tremendously. A faerie! An actual faerie was going to help them! Perhaps now his tribe had new hope.
To be continued...