Heaven's Eye - Prologue

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Fantasy Realm
A shortish excerpt from my WIP, Heaven's Eye. Mages, rain, living dark. Apologies for the formatting; the editor won't let me make the lines even or the font all one size for some reason.

Submitted: May 04, 2017

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Submitted: May 04, 2017

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It started in a labyrinth. It was a metaphorical labyrinth of sorts, but a labyrinth nonetheless, one with small houses, tangled streets, high walls, and broken stone. Rain plinked down on twisting alleys and fell through holes in shingled roofs, leaving shiny smears on dull stone tiles. Here, on the Verge of and near-plentitude, is where nightmares are born. And unfortunately, they’re not metaphorical. After all, what do you find inside a labyrinth but a monster?

Puddles spread from one end of the street, if you could call this thin alleyway a street, to the other, trickling through broken cobblestones and stirring up mud. Raindrops spattered onto their liquid surfaces, exhausted from the long journey from the sky to the stones, and lay themselves down into the bosom of their mother Earth. Houses slowly, ever so slowly, eroded in the rain, sending particles of stone and particles of brick back to their source to mingle with the soil. Heaven collapsed into Earth, or so it seemed, one liquid sheet at a time until the only thing left will be a bloated earth and an empty sky…  Into this deluge stepped two brave souls, about the same height. The first didn’t seem to mind the rain, but the second was annoyed, maybe a  little grumpy. The grumpy one was shorter by a small margin, but she seemed taller, especially when she talked. She was dressed simply but practically and neatly, and in her hands, she held a small, circular object, which she looked at with some annoyance. The other person held a small assortment of things in a floppy bag that looked like it had seen better days. She had a definite tendency to trip over her own feet or snag her clothing in places you could swear had nothing to snag clothing on. She was resigned to it. Many people would have just been annoyed. Over her shoulders, she wore a black, messy coat with a large amount of bulging pockets.There was nothing inherently imposing about the duo- in fact, they might even look faintly ridiculous. However, there was something in the way they walked that might have given a watcher pause, some sort of casual mantle of authority. There was definitely something different about them. This could be expressed in several different, almost indescribable ways, but the most obvious would be the way the rain stopped about a foot above their heads, where it seemed to meet some kind of invisible shield.

 

There was darkness. Not darkness, as scientists will tell you, that is the absence of light, but pure and utter dark. It is the darkness that is the opposite, not the absence, of light. This darkness wormed and squirmed like something unholy, waiting for a chance to devour. Somewhere in this foul pit, a light shone. It wasn’t shining, not because this light is just the absence of darkness and not its opposite. It was not-light. The dark didn’t fear it. Is the light afraid of its shadow? Instead, the dark was intrigued, something that didn’t bode very well for that dim, flickering light.

 

The duo quickly became a trio. The newcomer was tall, with clothes that looked much too small for him and wild, red hair. He carried another small, circular object. It looked a bit like a compass, if a compass had six different, wildly spinning arrows and a strange, faintly glowing face. He met up with the other two and quickly checked the neat one’s compass, comparing it with his. They murmured to each other, their words barely audible above the thumping of rain on cobbles and shingles, and seemed to come to an agreement. The messy one took yet another compass out of her innumerable pockets and checked with the others. There were nods of affirmation, and, with this seemingly important matter settled, the whole group set out in the same direction as before.

 

Somewhere in the Labyrinth, something was growing. Darkness (absence of light, not opposite) bubbled and frothed around it, then turned tail and fled. You’d think that something that makes darkness flee would be good, and most of the time, you’d be right. It’s just that sometimes, just sometimes, the shadows flee before something of such pure darkness, it scares even them. Somewhere inside each shadow is a memory of the Dark, a memory that empowers them and weakens them in equal measure. After all, they may be part of the Dark, but in the end, the Darkness will always, always surrender to the Light. The shadows know it. The Dark does not.

 

The three were getting more apprehensive. Their faces were calm, but it showed. Their strides were longer and they hurried. As time went on, they glanced around at every little noise. It wasn’t a fearful glance, but a nervous one, as if their nerves were so on edge they couldn’t help but look. It was instinctive and unnecessary, as the sound they were really expecting and dreading would be obvious. Only the neat one seemed to be mostly calm, but even she flinched at each crack of the lightning. While they obviously had confidence to spare - they’ve done this before and know what they’re doing- you could see that they were nearing the eventual destination and that their destination wasn’t the pleasantest one. This was made even more apparent by a small event - a tall man rounded the corner nonchalantly. He started in recognition of the group and stared. The redhead quickly walked over and spoke to him, in undertones and with worry on his face. The man nodded respectfully and quickly walked away in the opposite direction, then broke into a run. The scene was repeated a few times as they walked towards a tattered open-air market. No one hung around when a Taint was expected.

 

The Dark spread. It didn’t grow, exactly, in the way that living things grow, but it certainly expanded exponentially. The point it had been increased in size, like an exploding universe, but still, it was small. It fed on the small source of light that it had exploited to get here; the light it could exploit, because, in a way, they were related- two siblings from the same source but not leading to the same end, old Light and newborn Darkness. It found shapes, as the more abstract things will do upon coming into this world. It found shapes that beings of light feared and shaped that were abominations to the very space it occupied. You didn’t need light to see it- it was Darkness. In pitch black, it would still be visible- it had a not-glow, a not-shine. Bubbling spurts of night formed talons to rip and slash, and teeth to cut and tear and devour. It would be bigger soon. Watch out, world.

.

 

 

The market was a depressing place - the sort of depressing place that can only be found when it’s nearly impossible to be outside and people insist on staying out so they can sell just a little bit more produce and maybe turn a little profit. The stalls were dirty and beaten-up. Their roofs offered little protection from the elements and most of the sellers were soaked and from head to toe. The few customers that were still outside buying produce must have needed the supplies really, really desperately - they were even worse off than the vendors. The neat one of the group, who was obviously the leader, headed to the center square of the small market and the people at the market followed her. There might have been awe on some of their faces, but then again, it might have been fear. When she had gotten everyone’s attention, she said a few words and the crowd cleared out, leaving their merchandise or purchases behind them in their haste to evacuate. The neat one noticed something about them that no one else had noticed in the pouring rain and poorer light: their shadows were gone. So was hers. “It’s started,” she said briefly to the other two. They nodded, grimly, and joined her in methodically sweeping the area, compasses out. As they approached the very last stall- a nondescript, small one that wasn’t currently being used by any particular trader - they all heard a hissing, crackling, inhuman noise. It wasn’t loud or soft; it just was, and it seemed to be transferred straight to the brain without having to pass through the ears. Each member of the trio recognized it, and they all began tapping and touching strange leather and metal gauntlets that they all wore on both arms - the neat one using several hand-carved, ivory prosthetic fingers. They started walking more carefully and treading more softly- the tall red-head walking with a smooth wooden prosthetic foot. The neat one unsheathed a long silver sword, with a strange twist in the metal. A melodic humming noise, just audible, could be heard, a beautiful noise to the trio. The air around their fists began to crackle, not with darkness fleeing, but with light.

 

The darkness reared above its hiding place, a great ugly thing- though to itself, it was beautiful. It wanted to rip and tear the light, to take to itself nourishment and grow stronger. Soon, a new Age of Shadow would fall, and it would fill the land until there was nothing else. The Taint threw itself at the small, measly lights and attacked. The small lights flared, and the dark stopped in puzzlement. Light like fire seared through it with pain like it had never experienced before, and it wondered how this could be. Was it not the Dark? Was it not greater than all the light in the world? It attacked again, enraged by this presumption. Again, it was driven back and wounded, and soon, it had to retreat. The Dark returned to its birthplace as the rain around it returned to the earth.

 

Three people stood in the pouring rain. They were frazzled and dirty, and their clothes were covered in black stains. If you looked closer, you’d realize they weren’t just black. These spots verged on Dark, and they could be seen against the blackness of the messy one’s coat. The tall redhead shook hands with both of them, and they gripped his hand tightly, sharing all the closeness that facing danger together can cause. He bid them farewell and walked off into the night, never getting wet. The other two stood there in silence for a few minutes, simply standing in a companionable silence. The denizens of the market slowly filtered back, examining the stains on the stalls and looking amazedly at the two comrades. The messy one’s rain shield flickered for a second, and she got hit square in the face by the rain bouncing off rain shield. She groaned.

“Thank you so much for that, Selene,” she muttered.

 


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