A dreary silence drenched the ever thickening darkness; clouds enshrouding the night sky and the wind howling restlessly. The dark sea shifted at the moon's beckoning; waves tumbling against the jagged borders of Vhaldyr: a lone island where a bastion of an ancient civilization resided.
And just beyond the treacherous cliffs rested a small settlement of houses: monumental structures of stone. The gravel roads were quiet as the Vhaldyrians had already ventured into the deepest realms of dreams.
Whilst the snores of slumber filled the air, a monotonous event took place at the stone castle in the heart of Vhaldyr, interrupted by hysteria. The floors reverberated with hurried footfalls as bellowing shouts ripped through the walls. A turbulent storm of soldiers rushed through the corridors; their steel armour clinking loudly with their frenzied movements.
A few hours of arduous running passed and a handful of unfortunate soldiers fainted from fatigue, their heavy armour inevitably to blame. It wasn't long and the morale began to plummet. The soldiers had been running amok, they had searched the castle from top to bottom and yet they were left with no results whatsoever.
A small boy sat idly at the edge of a cliff, gazing down at the raging sea below. His eyes drifted over each magnificent wave rising into the air, gaining momentum, coiling across the water's surface and finally toppling against the rocks. It was an endless cycle of the sea's tumultuous struggle against the obstacle known as Vhaldyr.
The boy often escaped the confines of the castle walls, wandering towards the cliffs at all hours of the night. It was a place he held dear, a place that had times and times again soothed his aching heart, mended the bruises and sealed the cracks.
And as he gazed at the vast sea, he dreamed of the day that he would venture forth into the unknown, discover uncharted lands, unravel mysteries and fight pirates. He had many times pictured a life elsewhere, a life of inexplicable adventure.
He was ten years of age: a young boy with sapphire blue eyes and rich brown curls. He had a pale complexion as he hadn't the freedom to leave the castle as he chose and he wore a dark blue garment.
He closed his eyes at the cool wind wafting through his face.
"Galahad!" called a familiar voice from behind him.
He glanced across his shoulder at the tall figure emerging from the darkness. A woman came into view; she had dark ocean blue eyes and long jet black hair tied into a side braid. She wore a long violet dress of rich satin and her feet were bare against the rocky cliff.
"Mother?" he asked befuddled.
"It's very dangerous to be out here all alone." she frowned disbelieved, heading towards her son.
Galahad turned back to the sea.
"I like being alone, away from the castle, away from father."
"And what about me, do you like worrying me like you do?"
"That's not my intention."
She sighed hopelessly as she kneeled at his side, pulling him closer, holding him in a warm embrace. Galahad buried his face in his mother's warmth, feeling a sense of calmness flood his being.
"It looks as though my stories didn't frighten you at all." she teased.
"You mean the stories of the sea?"
"Of the serpents that lurk within the darkest and deepest depths of these icy waters."
"But they're just stories, mother."
She suddenly stood up, pulling Galahad to his feet, a coy smile playing across her lips.
"Are you sure about that?"
"If it were true, there would've been a sighting or rather a casualty long ago."
"If I recall correctly, the last sighting was about a hundred years ago."
"Then we have nothing to worry about." Galahad said as he walked past her towards the narrow path leading back to town.
The wind suddenly ceased blowing, followed by a portentous silence. The darkness thickened as a cloud rolled across the moon, hiding its light. And slowly but surely, a cool chill claimed the air, shifting into an ominous pressure that foreshadowed something that was yet to come. A shiver ran down Galahad's spine, the hairs on the back of his neck rising.
Galahad could see the fear in his mother's eyes as she stood motionless, inhaling a deep breath to calm her nerves. She slowly turned around and walked towards the sea, her gaze focused on the darkness overhead.
"Mother!" called Galahad in a strained whisper, but she ignored him and continued onwards.
Her toes touched the edge of the cliff as she cautiously peered down at the dark waters below, seemingly normal, the waves still crashing against the rocks. Her eyes purveyed the sea for a long while as she expected to find something out of the ordinary, but there was nothing.
A bad feeling spiraled in Galahad's gut.
His mother sighed with relief and turned around, a warm smile forming from her lips. She stretched her arms over her head and yawned loudly.
"I think it's time to head ba-"
She swallowed the last of her words as a loud splash erupted from behind her, her long hair wildly coasting in the sudden gust as a huge shadow fell over her. Galahad stood paralyzed with fear, gaping astonished at what his eyes showed him.
Her heart pounded in her throat as she willed herself to turn around, slowly and reluctantly. She shifted a wary gaze at the pillar of darkness towering over her, it was so tall that it strained her neck to try and see the end of it.
The dark clouds rolled away, the moon coming into view to illuminate the mysterious pillar of darkness: it was a gargantuan long body, covered in a layer of black scales that glistened with water dripping down. It towered high into the night sky, its powerful muscles coiling beneath its scaled skin. It had a massive head with black fins on the sides that resembled bat wings, twitching in the gathering breeze. And its small beady eyes were a dark crimson, the colour of blood.
An ominous aura surrounded this ancient sea monster, a harrowing bloodlust seeped from its presence.
Galahad tried calling out to his mother, but his throat was dry. He tried to step forward, but his limbs were paralyzed with fright. No matter how much he wanted to save her, he couldn't...
The great serpent suddenly angled its head down, its beady eyes focusing on the helpless woman standing before it. She stood trembling, gaping and crying, the tears trickling down her cheeks as her eyes glazed over with shock.
The serpent opened its jaws, revealing its velvety tongue and sharp fangs that gleamed in the darkness. A moment of silence passed, Galahad gasping for breath as his mother closed her eyes, one last tear streaking down her cheek.
With a sudden flurry of movement, the serpent swiftly veered its head forward, its jaws closing around the soft flesh of its prey, its sharp fangs sinking into the skin. And its crimson eyes remained unblinking, staring at Galahad for a fleeting moment before it plunged backwards into the water with a loud splash, disappearing into the dark depths, along with his mother.
Galahad fell to his knees, tears welling up inside of him. She's gone, his mother is gone...
A painful pang shot through his heart; he clutched at his chest, cringing at the horrible pain as tears streaked down his cheeks.The cold realization of his mother's demise struck him like lightning, too fast and too painful. But the most heart wrenching thought of all was the fact that he had been there, standing just a few paces away from her and yet he had done nothing.
He was a coward, a weak and helpless coward...