Something Stirs in the Darkness

From the Story Arc: Finding the way home

Previous Story in the Arc: A Chance Meeting by Arch Angel X (Wednesday, June 29, 2005)

Next Story in the Arc: A worst Fate by Arch Angel X (Tuesday, July 12, 2005)

(posted Wednesday, July 06, 2005)

The bushes to his right snapped. His ears perked to the sound of sliding metal. Sucking in a slow breath of rot and mold, Xavier squinted to make out the approaching cloaked silhouette of his first opponent. It sneered something in its native tongue before stepping closer, leaves crackling and mud sucking at its boots as it moved. This was a game they’d play with him. A game he couldn’t win. The demons wouldn’t swarm him. Why bother? They already had him surrounded, barred his escape from all sides. Should he try to flee, they’d merely reduce him to ash with their flame. No. Instead of attacking all at once, they would have their way with him. A few at a time.

Another rustle to his left, and a similar brand of black hooded opponent cackled before twirling two serrated blades it had unclipped from its belt. He nodded in understanding, a frown of resolve hardening his youthful features, intense icy eyes flashing in determination through his snowy white bangs. If they would have their way with him first, he would not allow them to have all the fun.

Like he assumed they would, both opponents charged him at once, blades flailing. Moonlight caught the folded steel and blinded him momentarily as the demons closed the distance. Just when he thought he would meet them one to two and still have a chance, seven more cloaked demons detached themselves from the masses and came at him, each brandishing at least one lethal weapon and a lust for blood. Setting himself for their charge, Xavier uttered a final prayer.

Only this time, the only word that left his mouth was the name of the one he tried so desperately to reach. “Seraphic Flame” Xavier whispered to himself, his voice barely audible was lost amidst the darkness.

A deep booming voice echoed through the area and those who charged him stopped in their tracks, shrinking back with cries of uncertainty. Like mice they fled for the shadows as the rest of the howling demons pounded trees and rocks like monkeys. For a moment Xavier thought he had been saved.

Xavier began to quickly turn and move his head back and forth looking for the voice that echoed all around him. Pushing himself backwards with his legs he rested his back against an old rotting willow tree. It creaked and cracked as he pushed him self up along it’s trunk.

His hopes died when from the shadows in front of him came the chinking of mail. Xavier’s ears ached with the frantic noise the rest of the demons made. They too were frightened, for even they could become victims to the one who approached if they weren’t careful.

A sudden high screech whirled him about, his heart racing. The air that surrounded him was devoid of movement and sound; even the crickets had stopped chirping. There was no sign of the demons master.

He shifted his weight and pursed his chapped lips. Probably just a bird, he reasoned with himself. Yet his doubts could not be erased. There was a hint of foul play in the air. He could feel it. A strange musty smell, like dirty wet clothing, hung in the night. It filled the Xavier’s nostrils with its tang, so he began breathing through his mouth to escape it.

The demons scream came again, this time closer. Instinct brought Xavier’s hands forward in an attempt to harness his powers, but he was exhausted not from the flight of the demons but from his confrontation with Blaze, Red Djinni and Triste the former Seraphim who now darned a human name.

Xavier cracked his knuckles and looked away, concluding that his mind played tricks on him in his high state of drowsiness. A second icy breeze slapped his face, turning his cheeks raw and causing his stomach to tighten.

"Who goes there!" he roared as he glared out at the darkness again. A second figure of black slinked behind the tree and vanished, the horrid screech was heard again in the distance.

Then the hedge to his far right rustled.

He snapped his gaze toward it. He clenched his fists as he approached the bush at a soundless creep. The brittle grass barely showed the imprint of his boots where he stepped.

When he stood within arms reach of the bush, he dropped into a defensive crouch and peered under its brambles, at the ready. But there was nothing, quiet once again as he stood in the center of an opening of the dense forest. Gloomy night and fog hung over the field, a curtain of dark mist. What meager moonlight strong enough to pierce the clouds only reflected off the fog.

“Where are you?” His whisper was quiet, yet menacing as he squinted through the dull yellow haze.

A series of faint whimpers answered his demand. The veins in the wrist that clenched his fisted hands pulsated with hot blood as he stalked about, his ears tuned to the whimpers as he cast bush branches aside and peered between the gnarled roots of trees with a vengeance.

The piercing screech sounded again, and a gust of wind at his back nearly knocked Xavier on his face. Brushing strands of hair from his sharp white eyes, he clenched his teeth and tried to make sense of things. The fog-laden grassy flats were without movement. A deathly chill had recently swept in, more incredible than the original bitterness. He suppressed the need to shudder. That feeling of unease had returned to his bones.

A trance had encompassed him, his gaze and his body unable to act on its own, to ward off the approaching evil. Panic set in.

Why do I have this feeling in my mind suddenly was not my own?”

All control had been taken away as he watched, through the corners of his vision, the black mist exit. His eyes could not even widen.

The mist soared toward him, looking no different than a piece of black silk that had caught the night breeze. Xavier felt no different than a tethered bull before the butcher’s block, as he still could only watch what he knew was his doom soar toward him.

A tall figure stood about twenty paces in front of him, but the elements of the night obscured much of his vision. It prevented him from determining who or what this figure resembled. Pinpricks of gooseflesh crept up Xavier’s arms.

“Was this the black mist? Was this what scared away the demons had come now for him?” he thought to himself as his hands began to tremble. Fear inched up his spine bit by bit until he was engulfed in it.

After a brief interlude of silent hesitation, the figure slowly came closer, stepping through the veil of fog into the pale light of the moon. A black cloak and hood hid almost all features in shadow. Only a pair of eyes--fierce, determined, afflicted fire red eyes--gave Xavier reason to believe the figure in front of him was not mortal.

To be continued…