By Cheri MacColl
He looked out from the darkness of the tower. Soon. Soon she will be here, and I will possess her. From the tower he could see beyond the rim of the mountains to the endless ocean that lay on the other side. Arris moved through the darkness of the foreboding castle.
It had all started so long ago. There had always been bitterness between the Kingdom of the Black Mountains, and the rich and fertile northern kingdom of Gonador. Wars had been fought, thousands had been slaughtered, and the waters had run red with blood.
In the thirtieth year of Rholan, King of the northern lands, his wife Talia had given birth to a daughter, Rowan. One year earlier, Caladon the Dark became father as well. It was hoped that these two infants would grow up to unite the kingdoms. But dreams often turn into nightmares. In Rowan's fourth year her mother died of fevers. After that Rholan became jealous, and guarded his daughter, vowing not to lose her. As the years passed the tension between the two kings grew. It was well known that Rholan would never allow Arris to wed his daughter, even if it cost the lives of innocents.
Arris was a dark child. Cruel with a soul as black as the mountains where he was born. He was denied nothing and those who refused him were tormented, and tortured, becoming mindless slaves that wandered the great halls. Caladon had taken ill, and his heart broke when he though of the bitterness of his son, But he also feared him. Caladon knew that Arris was studying the Dark arts, he feared for the people and for Rowan. Arris became enraged when Rholan refused him and amassed an army to march into the north and claim what was rightfully his.
Thus began the Great War. For two years it raged, neither side giving ground. Arris' army battling on out of fear, Rholan army out of love for Rowan. Far to the north, Rowan would sit and weep over the loss of life on her behalf. Time after time she pleaded with her father to let her go, she feared Arris, but the death she saw on her hands was driving her to madness.
At last she resolved to end the war. She sought the agents of the enemy. Many of them were know to the Palace guard, and it took little time to meet with one. Thus she smuggled a message to Arris stating if he promised to end the war she would go to him, but the war must end. Within days she received a reply. With a heavy heart she read his demands. In a single moment she lost all freedoms, she was to be his pet, like a dog or falcon, there simply to obey. She was never to leave, or speak against him, never to defy him nor stand as an equal. Rowan fell to the floor and wept.
She left the city and travelled through the night, resting during the day. There was little choice in her decision. She had seen children orphaned and others slain. She had held dying men who had returned to the capital, and whispered prayers for them. It was the only thing she could do, so she pressed on.
Buried deep in the mountains, Dragon's Keep was cut from the black stone that gave the mountains their name. Below the castle, on the shores of a dead lake was the town of Dragon's Reach. A dark and frightening place for the unwary.
He paced the dark hallways lost in though. She is coming. The shining Lady of the north. Soon the darkness will engulf her and she will be helpless. He smiled at the thought. He entered the Great Hall, he tapestries swaying slightly with the breeze that silently blew through. A storm was coming. He looked out the window to the darkening sky. Turning, he left and made his way to the stables.
In his wake the shadows stirred with movement of dark misshapen creatures. "Master," they whispered. They were broken twisted shells of the men they had once been. They could not remember the times before they had been engulfed by the darkness.
design ©2001 by Cindy Rosenthal
The Darkness © 2000 by Cheri MacColl
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