The Starless, Chapter One: Night In Jade

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
Something is astir tonight for Edgar Hill. Could it really be happening?

Submitted: June 03, 2008

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Submitted: June 03, 2008



Night In Jade

He felt the swell of shadow, like the wash of blood and color, return to the sky, to his cheeks, as the atmosphere about receded back into darkness. So stood, shocked cold, the young boy amidst a field of windswept, low verdure and trees that nevertheless retained a pale, aural luminance. Without a remaining inkling of the very source from which it derived its countenance, the land continued to glow, now a reflecting vestige of the intrusive light. Edgar could not understand. No stars shone out tonight, and even if they did, the formidable abyss could not possibly illuminate an answer to any hurting, inquiring soul. Yet the boy had to admit the terrible, merciless, shattering impact of her grace against the walls of his solemn world – everything changed. A single, red, shooting star broke through what once seemed impregnable walls of starless sky. What's worse, its half-second flicker to death was more frightening than its entrance from nowhere.

Looking around the field, Edgar found the landscape easy to read as one ideally would under a livelier sky. Except it did more than just merely glow; nature perspired with a life and beauty like he'd never witnessed or could ever explain in simple words. From whatever inspiration, it transformed and became the kind of place lovers dictate, dreamers visit in their sleep, but could never hope to see on a regular night. Edgar smirked through the sheer haze knowing that nothing truly changed, that illusion could be broken down to its basic core. He spotted the familiar sight of the voluminous hills that, if followed, would doubtlessly lead to home. Much to his surprise, a proper squinting revealed it had not changed at all; on the other hand, he had never realized how dark of a place it was without all this light. Soft melancholy filled the boy's heart, whether by nostalgia or guilt, Edgar could not decide. He was due home because there was unfinished business to settle awaiting him there. Yet, why did he hesitate? As he understood it, home was within the blink of the eyes...

...they suddenly dropped to his ankles to stare in disbelief at what could only, undeniably, be a small bird of radiant, crimson plumage, decent talons, with a single feather attached to the crest of its head. Phoenix came to mind, although what would such a creature be doing in a place like this? Then, Edgar found her eyes.

The boy nearly collapsed forward trying to follow the bird between his legs as it dispersed, catching himself in time to keep pace. He could not believe his astonishment, the thoughts abruptly taken to flight in his mind, reaching to connect the mystery of the universe, whose answer never until now seemed so close at hand.

“Wait,” he cried after her bouncy gait until, suddenly realizing, stopped. Another step would lead him further and further away from home and he wasn't sure whether it was right to abandon the duty expected of him back there. The pain returned to his body, multiplied by heavy ambivalence, the confusion of disbelief. It could not be – but it was. The phoenix bird connected with the boy in a fantastic linking gaze that mocked both him and sky altogether. If stars could not shine before, they sparkled there with the most venerable of brilliance in what best could be the discovery of Starlight.

He promised to return so long as he was granted this slight detour into curiosity. Who knew where stars disappear to? He stepped forward and away into the resplendent meadow. The grass glowed brighter, he noticed, under each step, and dimmed with each progression. He counted these marks, the imaginary cycle of footprints one, two, three feet ahead. Ahead, aligned starkly against the horizon was a dark protrusion whose mere appearance, oddly enough, introduced dread into the venture. More startling than that, however, was the sight of a red speck shrinking toward it.

Edgar hastened to a pounding run after Starlight that he at first did not realize the ferocity of his pace, until peripheral vision gave way to a fluorescent blur. The dark entity grew in proportion with each eradicated distance in between that in no time it took up his entire view and he did not notice the abrupt decline into the land. He felt it. Gravity pulled him down a long slope, tip-toes within inches inches of Starlight. Try as he could to press hard upon the earth to ease his speed, the effort was futile, and so in order to avoid stepping on the bird he plunged into the innermost bottom crevice of the slope.

To one side was the bevel, to the other loomed that dark entity – a high hedge of grass stalk patch. The light was weaker here. Edgar sat up unsteadily, still disoriented and confused from the unforeseen fall, then suddenly jerked alert towards a figure standing at the entrance of the plot of stems - an old man gently gazing back at him. Starlight bounced by between them and pushed through the grass in oblivious fashion. Edgar kept a wary eye upon the stranger while cautiously passing through in pursuance.

Here night regained its obscurity beneath the starless sky. Stalk after stalk forced aside, it could not alleviate the nuisance of loose, thick strands intertwining, conflicting with his passage and free view. It was also harder to see now that the light was diminished to a nearly nonexistent, daresay imaginary, coat strengthened only in memory. But the dark should not have to faze Edgar, he who had long bore the veil of dark, learned to recognize and bear its properties. Now, how could he trust the validity of his eyesight? “Starlight!”

He vaguely wondered whether exposure to the light had changed him, too. Light had weakened his senses. Starlight was nowhere to be found, and he did not want to be alone. Something about this place rendered him powerless, reduced him to trepidation and suspicion. In such a awful place could there only ever be a new breed of darkness, and monsters to live, and perspire in their full glory. A batch of stalk pushed back against him into a chain-reaction of retaliatory sway of the grass.

“Starlight! Starlight!”

There was a rustling, and then the sliding sound of a sharp cut, followed by the clatter of something like bones. A terrible force that pushed Edgar hard onto the ground. Though it was not by much, light flow increased and it glinted off the metal of a blade embedded in the earth next to the boy's head. Edgar stared, awestruck at the shadowy figure looming above him, lifting the sword in preparation for another round.

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