The darkness writhed across the barren ground, peeking over the hill slopes that rose on either side of him. The mass of shadows crawled, chasing him as he fled. Liann had his sword at the ready. The shadows dove at him and his blade cut through inky, dark bodies; halted by his attack until they could rejoin again.
The shadows were everywhere, even the sky seem black with it, the stars hidden from sight. The only visible object in the above was the pale, yellow moon, cracked with dark fissures that stemmed from some malignant, pulsing growth.
Sweat ran down the side of his face, his heart pounded as he ran, yet he kept swinging his sword at the creatures trying to capture him. In the distance was his destination; towering spires of a once glittering castle, now grey and seized by vines and thorns.
The sounds of growls came as faint, vicious whispers from the shadows that leaped at Liann. His blade was thin and curved, slicing through the darkness in clean strokes. He rolled, knowing he had to make it to the castle that stood in the distance. Ahead, the path narrowed, the hills dropping away into tall hedges. Liann rushed forward, side stepping, jumping, and turning as he fled to dodge the grip of a shadowy claws and figures along the way.
A trembling began to shake the ground as the darkness gathered in bigger masses, bubbling over the hills and hedges, diving down to chase him as he sprinted in between the hedges. Liann’s heart felt as though it would burst as his boots thundered down the narrowing path. He kept moving, kept fighting, kept desperately hoping to succeed.
The whispering of shadows soon became rumbling howls as he neared the end of the path. Liann cried out as it opened up into a courtyard, just in front of the castle. From behind, the shadows spilled out in a dark, cluttered mess. The castle was so close now. Ahead, shadows began to pour from the sides, and from behind the castle, leaping and writhing down faster than before. The darkness crawled along the stone towers, slithering over open ground, surrounding him from all sides. The shadows gathered together, an ocean of darkness that rose in tall waves. They waited, with him encircled.
Liann halted. His throat felt dry and tight. He did not release his sword though. He looked at the towers, at the highest spiral, and prayed for strength–he wondered if he would fail so close to the end.
With a mighty cry, he lifted his blade and ran forward. The darkness responded in kind, slashing with claws and talons, gaping mouths that led into void trying to swallow him whole. Liann fought; left, right, behind him, but for all his speed and power, the darkness did not give. It slowly closed in, tightening his range of motion by every second. He saw the end near.
The shadows rose in one movement, high into the sky, leaving no room for him to escape. He only had enough room to stand now. Then, in one fell sweep, the tall walls of shadow collapsed inward, swallowing him up.
He drifted in a world void of life. There was nothing but the empty dark. The castle had gone, the light of the moon, and even his sword. Liann felt nothing, even his heart was empty.
A familiar voice rang through his mind.
All the things he had fought for. All the people he loved, the world he missed, the days of happiness, nights by a warm fire, and the joy of a kingdom united.
It was so easy to forget it all, to continue to drift, to relinquish himself to the nothingness of the void where there was no pain, no worry, no life, no light.
A warmth filled his chest.
The warmth grew and Liann opened his eyes to see a small light form over his heart.
Take the light.
He knew he could trust that voice.
Liann raised his hand and the warmth grew into a burning. He winced and the light grew, brightening till he had to cover his eyes. He reached down and felt the tip of a hilt. He clutched the handle and pulled upward. He knew exactly what it was, what he could finally summon. Liann opened his eyes and suddenly stood upright in the darkness, on his feet. In his right hand was a sword with a blade made of brilliant light; his Soul Sword.
A wind picked up. He would not give in to the dark.
With a deep breath, he steadied himself, lifted his new weapon above his head and summoned all the power within himself and into his blade. It brightened into a shining beacon, a lone light in the dark.
“Cut through, Luminas!”
He brought down his sword and light pierced the dark, parting it like a curtain and eating at the shadow world around him. The dark fell away, drowned in light. Liann shielded his eyes and when he looked up again, he was back in front of the castle, the remnants of shadows wriggling in oozy piles on the ground.
The castle was before him.
The light of his Soul Sword dimmed and he ran forward and up the stairs of the castle. Vines covered the wooden double doors. He slashed at them with his sword and they fell away, crumbling as though the light had burned them. Liann kicked in the doors and dashed forward. There was one grand staircase that led up. With new found strength, he continued onward, moving up the spiraling staircase.
Once again, faint growling and whispers could be heard, echoing from the bottom of the tower. Liann kept going, his sword growing brighter, lighting his way. By the time he came to the last few feet of steps, his breath was labored. He pushed his way up to the top, reaching a small wooden door. The noises below grew louder. Liann did not hesitate as he pushed the door open and entered a room bathed in pale moonlight. Against the opposite wall, under an arched window was a bed and canopy.
Liann walked towards the bed and the person laying on top of it. He stood by the bedside, looking down at the sleeping person, a man with features just like his own. He was handsome, with blonde hair that pooled around his shoulders. On his head was a small golden crown. The man’s hands were clasped over his abdomen. Despite all the chaos, he remained sleeping peacefully.
Liann looked down at the man’s face, one that was his own. He glanced back, the darkness had reached the top. The wooden door rattled at the hinges. Liann turned back to the bed, raised his Soul Sword and hovered it over his sleeping body. When he released his grip, the sword floated own its own, the blade bright.
He made it. It was over now. Liann stepped back as the blade began to descend into the chest of his sleeping self. The room began to grow darker as the shadows crept in, but they were too late. The light of the sword slowly entered him, pushing back at the shadows that began to envelop every inch of the room. They grabbed at Liann, but he did not care now. He would stay behind, but his other self would awaken in the world beyond.
The void swallowed him again. He reached out, watching the faint twinkling of light disappear. Wisps of darkness latched onto him, pulling him back into nothingness as the last of the light blinked out. The only comfort he had now, was knowing he’d won.