The Lord of Night

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

“Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.”  -William Shakespeare, Macbeth

Chapter 2 (v.1) - The Guardians of Ash

Submitted: August 13, 2016

Reads: 222

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 13, 2016

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The elven maid woke up with a faint gasp. All over her body, she felt sore and bruised. The elf’s eyes fluttered open to the roof of a dimly-lit cave, the rocks above her gray and foreboding. As she struggled to sit up right, she could felt the strain of a multitude of bandages restricting her movements.

Where am I? The elf mused groggily while trying not to split her wounds open. Beneath her was a bed carved from what had seemed like a natural congregation of branches and tree trunks, all coming together to form a simple yet elegant wooden bed. Matting it were neatly-arranged bundles of leaves, coated by a layer of cotton flowers.

How did I get here? The elf mused in puzzlement, as she desperately tried to went through her mind upon the events that had let her here. With a shudder, images of the events last night streamed through her head, the pursuit by the demonic hounds, the ghostly warriors, and the elf in black standing beside a knight of thorns. She gasped, startled, and gingerly stepped onto the cold stone floor of the cavern. I must escape before they are back! The elf mused in apprehension. However, a voice coming from a shadowy corners of the cave halted her in mid-progress.

“Running out of this place in that state would be unwise. You will definitely rip your wounds moving around.” The mysterious voice was tinged with mild irritation. Emerging from the shadows was the elf that she had seen earlier. Now he stood before her, slightly taller than the elven maid in her ragged state. He had a fair face, almost beautiful, with a pointed chin, hooked nose, and straight eyebrows. Draping in long strands from his head were hair as black as crow’s wings. His skin was pale, as if they do not much encounter the sun. His ears, like hers, were slightly pointed in the fashion of the elves. His eyes were the steel gray of a winter storm, filled with a sense of curiosity and wariness. 

The black-haired elf was clad in a sable robe, its edges trimmed with raven feathers. Along the rims of the robe were inlaid magnificent patterns in gold, and strings of ebony beads clasped the folds of his garment together. Hanging around his neck was a jet-black necklace of twisted steel, and surrounding his right ring finger was a large gold ring embedded with an onyx stone.

“Who are you?” The elven maid inquired frantically, her voice rising in a fluster. “Why had you brought me here? Do you know those monsters that were fighting in the woods last night?” Before the elf could answer, the knight of thorns she had encountered last night stormed through the opening of the cavern.

The elven maid screamed upon the sight. She backed away frightfully, banging her wounded back against the bed’s wooden post. As if to assure her, the dark-clad elf shot the ghostly knight a stern look.

“Stand back, Grathgor. I will prefer to talk to her alone.” With that, the knight of thorns retreated to a far corner of the cave.

“You could cease going mad every time you saw him,” The elf remarked in a tone of sarcasm, “He is an ally. We are your allies.” He stated, slowly and clearly enunciating each words with a deep emphasis.  

“We meant you no harm, otherwise you would already be dead. At this, the elf placed his gaze upon her. His stare was calm and sincere, yet also watchful and anxious at her response. He seems like a wild beast, who had not often encounter the likes of men, the elven maid thought distractedly as their gazes met.

“We saved you from those demonic hounds in the forest yesterday night,” The dark-clad elf explained, “and brought you here, so that you can recover from your wounds.” Should I believe him? The elven maid pondered, her wariness of the elf standing in front of her still not faded with his explanation. However, as she thought about what he had said, the tension and stress coiling within her seemed to have lessen a bit. What he said is true, if he had wanted me dead, I would already have been dead amidst the darkness of Tenebrous Silva, the elven maid pondered, her gaze fixated upon the individual before her, still, who is he, and why would he help me?

“Who are you?” The elven maid inquired hesitantly, her expression still on alert of any hostile movements from the other elf. She started haltingly, “My name is Zonoran.”

“I am Luxus,” The dark-haired elf uttered in a voice that was almost a whisper, “Luxus Fey Sarelia. The Lord of Night.”

The Lord of Night, Zonoran mused dreadfully as she remembered the old rales her parents and elders had told her. A tale about an elf of darkness who roamed the woods, a necromancer who could summon the dead to do his bidding. That he was a curse upon elven kind, wretched and vile, and took delight in torturing and butchering any elves he encountered within the woods. Zonoran tried to broke into a run, but she slipped over the smooth, mossy stones, and crashed down onto the cavern floor.

Luxus sighed in an exasperated manner. He seemed drained and tired al of a sudden, as if the elf’s reaction to his name had shocked him. “Is this about those legends?” Luxus asked. His tone was tinged with a deep sorrow, and over it contempt and disappointment.

“They are not true. Most of them, anyway.” With a mask of scorn upon his face, and a look of disgust burning in his eyes, the black-haired elf spun around and strode out of the cave opening, “But do believe in anything you wanted.” With a slight sense of surprise, Zonoran detected a dejected tone within the elf’s words,

“You are free to leave this place whenever you want to. I had thought those wounds would trouble you, but it seemed like I had mistaken. Feel free to went back to where you had left. With luck, we would never run into one another ever again.”

Watching the dark-haired elf stormed off toward the opening of the dark cavern, the elven maid could not drop her gaze from the elf. He sounded hurt, Zonoran pondered, feeling hesitant all of a sudden. Maybe he truly does not mean me harm As she stepped forward and tried to walk, the elven maid winced with the waves of pain and nausea that crashed over her entire body, still frail and damaged from her close encounter with the demonic hounds.

Besides, to get to my village, I could hardly go through the woods again in this form. I barely survived the encounter last time, and I am much better off then. In a trembling voice, Zonoran called out to the elf who had called himself Luxus,

“Wait! I must apologize for what seemed to cross my mind earlier.” The elven maid’s voice rang loud and clear, like the strings of a lyre plucked in graceful rhythms, “Might I stay here while I recover from these wounds?”


She fancied that she could glimpse the dark-haired elf spun around, and upon his face was a glimmer of hope that had never been there before.

“Then I welcome you to Vallem Vasta,” Luxus said, before turning way. Vallem Vasta, the elven maid mused, her gaze following the lonely figure of the necromancer, The forlorn valley. It is such a fitting name for this place

Days after days passed as Zonoran gradually recovered from the wounds inflicted upon her by the demonic hounds. Every day, Luxus would come to her and check the infections upon her wounds, and bounded her in fresh bandages. He worked meticulously, his slim fingers tracing over her wounds with care, with a gentleness Zonoran had never experienced before, even from skilled physicians back in her village.

II wonder where did he learn to work like this? The elven maid pondered, observing the necromancer’s deft and precise movements. There had been a great deal of things about him that had puzzled her. He had servants, many of them, the ghostly warriors the elf maid had seen battling the hellhounds in Tenebrous Silva. At first, Zonoran had been terrified of the. With time, however, and seeing that they only obeyed direct orders from Luxus and meant her no harm, the elven maid had started to letdown her guard. The warriors were always silent, and would never react to any words she had said unto them. They moved mechanically, and seemed unable to felt heat nor cold, or any types of emotions for that particular matter. Their eyes were dark pits where the orbits should have been, devoid of any glint of life. One day, she had asked Luxus what they were, and he silently sat down beside her and explained,

“I called them the ash guardians. They were the souls of deceased warriors that I had summoned forth from the spirit realm. I gave them a new body in the ashes of those who had passed away and returned to dust. So that they could continue fighting for those who are still living, and prevent those people from the same fateful end that they had endured.” In a soft, sorrowful tone, Luxus pledged, “As the Lord of Night, I pledged upon my life that I will utilized their powers for good, and save as many as I can from the grasp of shadows.”

He always sounded so wistful and sad, Zonoran mused. Her gaze upon the necromancer was gentle, a glint of wonder sparkling within them. I wonder what had made him this way? However, Luxus was having one of his bad days, as clearly seen from his sullen expression, and she said nothing as the necromancer got up and strode away.

From the ranks of ash guardians, however, one was different from the rest. Much more different. It was the knight of thorns that Luxus had often called upon as Grathgor. She could not see his face behind the criss-cross steel mask, but Zonoran speculated that she will see the same dark, eyeless hollows carved into his face like the other ash guardians. However, his actions marked him out from their ranks. The thorn knight spoke, although in a deep gravelly voice, so low and rough that she could hardly decipher the words. He moved nimbly and fluidly, although in an extremely silent, non-human like manner.

Besides, the thorn knight seemed to actually hear her words, despite the fact that he would never responded to them. Zonoran once inquired Luxus about Grathgor’s origin and why he was different from the other warriors, but the only answer she received was that it was a tale for another time.

Through the days, which had later turned to weeks that she had been staying with him, Zonoran noticed that Luxus would often be gone during the day, only to return when the sun was already setting in the sky. She had asked him where he had gone, but the necromancer would always find some ways to avert her question. Despite that, the elven maid could sense that he was doing some sort of training. From where she was sleeping on the wooden bed, Zonoran could hear the clashing of swords, the banging of shields, and the dull thump of blades upon tree trunks.

Every time he went out of the proximity of the cavern, Luxus would brought his ebony staff of bones with him, the one topped with a horned demon skull. It seemed to be a means at which he used to channel the powers of darkness and summoned forth his ash guardians. At other times, the necromancer would sit in a corner of the cave a distance away from her and meditate. While droplets of sweat trickled down his face, Luxus would seemed to be struggling against his inner self, his face contorted in a deep scowl.

On some day, when she would have heard the shrill screeches and howls coming from the dark forest, Luxus and Grathgor would disappeared for the entire night, and was back only on the next morning. At times, the necromancer be tracking blood into the cavern, his body filled with cuts and bruises. She would help patch him up then, with the herbs and potions available in this distant place that had somehow became her home.

“Why did  you need to help them?” Zonoran asked the necromancer. Her gaze was resting upon his lean, black-clad form, her fingers twiddling the frayed edges of a bandage that had come loose. She had got to know Luxus for a long whie now, knew the gentle heart and affection he hid behind the cold mask of sarcasm and stubbornness. Despite the dark forces that he controlled and manipulated, Zonoran now understood that Luxus was doing it all for the good of others, not for himself. He saved them with his powers, despite the scorn and hatred, fear and disgust that were clearly shown within their eyes. Why should he even bother? The elven maid mused in puzzlement.  

“What do you mean by that?” Luxus returned her question with a question as he roasted a rabbit carcass over the dancing flames of a bonfire. Its skin was burned to a brown crisp in some places, and grease trickled down to sputter amidst the roaring fire. As a pleasant odor wafted into her nose, the elven maid’s stomach growled ravenously and it was all Zonoran could do to concentrate upon the present question.

“The people. I mean the elves.” She corrected herself, “They detest and feared your presence, and spread dreadful rumors about you. Why should you still help them?” Zonoran’s tone was full of confusion and puzzlement as she stared at the necromancer sitting beside her. “They never appreciate your help, and repay your aid in hatred and disgust. What is the worth in saving those who were ungrateful toward you?”

“Despite how terrible they are, they still need a protector, Zonoran,” Luxus placed his gaze upon the elven maid. His tone was soft and wistful as he continued, “I had lived long enough to know that.” Staring into the heart of the leaping flames, Luxus started in a low, sonorous tone,

“Let me tell you a story...” His voice trailed off, as if the necromancer was telling a tale by the side of a campfire amidst the woods, “there was once an elven boy. He was born in one of the wealthiest and oldest-lineage of elven families, and they lived in the capital city of Faronway, the towering Pan Gaius. His father was a famous paladin, feared by the dark races throughout Eosinum, and his mother a famous healer who is rumored to be able to relieve any kinds of illnesses and afflictions. The boy, however, was different from his parents,” At this, Luxus’s voice shook slightly, as if a wealth of emotions lurked behind his words,

“A birthmark, shaped like a dark crescent, marked the skin between his brows. His hair and eyes were black as midnight, unlike anything the elves had ever seen. Since the moment of his birth, they knew that he was cursed, touched by the darkness and shadows,” Luxus sighed, leaning back to slump against the bare wall of the rocky cavern. From the flickering light of their cooking fire, Zonoran could clearly see the crescent birthday lying between Luxus’s eyebrows.

“And they were right. The elven boy felt a certain attraction to darkness, in contrast to elves of the norm whose affinity was toward the light. Even from an early age, he could manipulate the shadows and the power of the dark forces to his will, and were fascinated by it. That was enough to dive the other kids away from him, in both fear and revulsion. So the boy went through the years of his childhood without any friends who stood close to his heart.” Luxus’s tone was brittle and rueful as he recounted the story,

“Even the adults despise him, including his own father, who scorn his son as a creature of evil, and refuse to love him as a father would love his son,” Upon this passage, Luxus’s eyes were flinty, and his mouth was set in a grim line,

“Only is mother stood by him, and taught the boy all the arts she knew of healing, and the virtues and goodness that still persisted in this world. He would not have been who he is without her support.” The necromancer spoke with grief. Although he tried to conceal it, Zonoran could hear that his voice was brittle and brimming with emotions,

“A few years after the period of childhood, his loving mother passed away due to a vicious illness. From that moment on, the boy was left utterly alone in this world, uncared for and abandoned by his father and the people surrounding him.” Luxus’s gaze upon the far wall was a dejected one, filled with years of pain and torment, forlorn and sorrow.

“Much to the boy’s, and anyone’s surprise, a family had decided to take the boy to live with them.” The necromancer spoke with affection, his voice filled with a level of affection Zonoran had never heard used by him before, “Despite the fact that they already had a son, they treated him like their own son, with all the love and care they could muster. The boy was genuinely glad for that, and loved them with all his heart and soul. The boy became close friends with the son of the family, as close to him as a brother would be. They played, laughed, and traveled everywhere together, and one would not be somewhere without the other. This continued until they were in adulthood.”

While talking about his new family, Luxus’s tone had become milder and more affectionate. All of a sudden, his voice had started to drop again, his tone melancholic and filled with dread.

“One day, that peace was shatter. The boy, who had grown into a man, along with his new parents and brother, were traveling within the woods of Faronway. The weather was beautiful that morning, and they had decided to go out and explore the woods.” Luxus’s clenched his hand until it went white, his teeth gritted together with emotion.

“They were attacked by a band of ravage orcs. The young elf’s parents were slain instantly, hacked by the orcs into bloody pieces, to be strewn across the forest floor,” The necromancer’s tone was filled with horror. He buried his face within his hands, and continued in a muffled tone, “His adoptive brother, who was a renowned warrior, managed to haggardly fend off the demons, while suffering several grievous wounds upon his body.”

“The elf and his brother stumbled off, fleeing from the orcs as quickly as their legs would carried them. The relentless pursuit dragged on, and by the time they had managed to outrun the fiends, his adoptive brother groaned agonizingly as his legs buckled underneath him and he could go on no longer,” Luxus’s tone was filled with a sorrow so deep, that despite the years that must have passed, that wound within his heart had still not yet healed,

“Leaning back against a tree trunk, the left stare in horror as his brother had started to bleed out. The young warrior pulled his adoptive brother close to him, and whispered into his ear in a ragged voice, ‘Brother, it is time I must depart for the realms beyond the earth. You must continue to live and wander the world without me.’ With those final words, the elven warrior passed away upon his brother’s arms.” There was a dark gleam within Luxus’s eyes, a combination of heartache, remorse, determination, and a burning desire for something. Zonoran gazed at him with pity, her blue eyes slightly red and moist with emotion.

“I couldn’t let him die, not like that,” The necromancer started, finally dropping the façade that this was someone else’s story and not his own, “I must save him, bring him back whatever the cost.” Staring right at her, Luxus confessed,

“I manipulated the dark powers, the might of shadows and bends into the spirit world. I summoned forth the soul of my brother, calling him back into this earth. I poured all of the tricks of sorcery I had ever accumulated through my years of life into bringing him back.” Almost instinctively, Luxus’s eyes darted up to look at Grathgor, standing silently by the entrance of the flame lit cavern.

“So that is how you have Grathgor?” Zonoran asked, her eyes flitting between the necromancer and the knight of thorns. She could sense Luxus’s shoulders slumped in sorrow and dread, and wished that she could just reached out and comfort him. He would not want that. Would not want to look weak in front of me. Zonoran mused. So she sat still and gazed down into her own hairs, clamped before her on her lap.

“I managed to summon his spirit back from the underworld,” Luxus explained, looking at the elven maid with a rueful gaze. His eyes were filled with a sense of shame and regret, and his words were heavy, each one seeming to weight him down like lead. “But he was not the same person that I knew of, not the brother that I had loved. He had been down there too long, his soul had been sheared away too much by the forces of darkness. I could not bring him back fully to what he once was.”

By now, the rabbit that had been roasting upon the spit had been scorched black beyond being edible, but Zonoran couldn’t have cared less. She was gazing intently at Luxus, and followed his stare toward the silent, rigid form of Grathgor.

“Sometimes I would see it, a trace. A hint of the brother that I used to know and love inside of him. Sometimes it was the words that he used to say. Others involuntary gestures and habits he use to do on a whim. Mostly, however, Grathgor would just stand there, in his form of stones and ashes, a minion that I had summoned, ready to comply and carried out my commands.”

 Luxus’s voice was brittle and tinged with anguish beyond the extent that could be described in words. If she had not known him better, or this is because that she had known him, been the only person to ever get to know him, she would have thought that he was about to break into tears.

“Luxus…” the elven maid called out, her voice soft and gentle. She had not seen the necromancer been this open and fragile before her, not during the time that she had stayed here at Vallem Vasta. It broke her heart just to see him in this way, as if his sorrow were her own. She felt like her heart could shatter just by feeling the wealth of suffering that this proud yet gentle savior of hers had gone through. All of his pain and agony, Zonoran mused sadly, I just wish that I could transfer them al onto me.

“I just wanted a friend, Zonoran,” Luxus confessed, his voice shaking with the wealth of emotion that overlies them. “There is a saying that I would often like to say to myself, I thread in the dark, so those who walked under the sun need not feared the shadows of night. However, come to think of it, those are lies. Pretty words that I could hide under and conceal the true weakness of my heart. That I am lonely, had always been, and deep down I desire a soul who could understand me.” The cooking fire casted a warm glow over Luxus’s features, softening the sharp edges and the closed, guarded look that Luxus wore like a shield. A shield to protect himself from other people, Zonoran realized with a mix of pity and sadness.

I guess that is the reason why I had been saving people who had wandered into the dark woods since then. Not out of an abiding sense of goodness and justice, but for my own self. I just wanted someone who could see me as understand my feelings, and see me as who I am and not fear me. Not fear my look and my power, and accept me truly within their heart.” Hesitantly, Luxus turned around and looked at her, “Someone who will love me.”

Not entirely knowing why she did it, Zonoran leaned forward and kissed the elf lightly upon his lips. It was a slight brush, and Zonoran’s rosy red lips caressed Luxus’s pale, thin ones. Luxus jerked away as if he had been hit, his eyes wide with alarm. Moving away, the elven maid could see that blood had risen to his face, and the necromancer was awkwardly stumbling away from her.

Pushing him up from the floor of the cavern, Luxus stared at her like a cornered animal, “No. We cannot do this,” He rasped, his voice trembling, rough and filled with a cold fury. “For the two of us, this is beyond imagining. You will regret this, Zonoran.” Whipping about, Luxus picked up his staff from where it laid upon the cavern floor. “She could see his eyes, they were gleaming with a fierce light, closed and guarded, as If he had just erected a wall between the two of them. “You will…” With those words, the necromancer stormed off into the night, away from the warm, flickering flames of the cave and into the shrill misty air. Where the creatures of darkness lurked and growled, hidden and shrouded from the faint light of the half-moon.

 

 


© Copyright 2020 S. K. Inkslinger. All rights reserved.

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