|Under the Blue Moon
Author: Irony'sFriend PM
Life has this impeccable ability to continue, but sometimes it needs a nudge in the right direction... Follow the journey as a girl with the gift of healing and a boy who claimed her as his own somehow manage to discover themselves, fight their demon, and even save a kingdom.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Romance - Chapters: 24 - Words: 40,521 - Reviews: 143 - Favs: 18 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 05-08-13 - Published: 07-07-12 - Status: Complete - id: 3039590
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The horror began with a long, piercing scream in the early hours of morning.
Daniel and Emory had been sleeping in the brush. Daniel wasn't necessarily happy about it, but they had decided it would be wise to attempt penetration of the castle after a good night's sleep. Besides…Daniel supposed it wasn't so bad having Emory's sleeping form tucked underneath his arm, her head resting peacefully against his chest.
At least before they were both jolted violently awake. Emory stared up into Daniel's gaze with wide, fearful eyes. "Did you…"
"…hear that?" Daniel finished.
Emory nodded. "Someone screamed."
"Look!" Daniel gasped, pointing.
Emory followed his finger, just barely visible in the moonlight, to the gates. Previously, there had been two armed guards on vigilance, but at the sound of the scream, both guards desperately abandoned their posts and hurried inside.
"They must be going to see what happened," Emory murmured.
"Then this is our chance!" Daniel exclaimed. "Come on, Emory, we have to get in there!"
Emory's mind was still weakened by sleep, but she saw the opportunity as well. With Daniel's help, she stumbled to her feet less than gracefully. They crept up to the gates like two shadows and stared at the great stone beauties in awe. Daniel pushed against one experimentally, and it creaked open with surprising ease. The two slipped inside, the gate closing behind them.
Emory wasn't sure what she expected to find. After all, it had been a scream that had allowed them in, and the reason they were here in the first place was their mortal enemy possessed by a demon. Still, nothing could have prepared her for this complete…this utter…
The village was completely still and seemingly desolate. The moon cast an eerie glow on the rooftops and streets, so it looked like a place for ghosts to dwell, instead of the castle servants and merchant people. Then there was the castle itself, standing in the distance and looming over the village like a watchful guardian…or the grim reaper.
An icy chill slid into Emory's veins. Something about this entire ordeal just felt…wrong. Without thinking, Emory clung to Daniel's shirt sleeve, but Daniel didn't protest in this situation.
"Emory…just stay close to me," he whispered.
Emory nodded and moved closer, so there was little space between them. Though Emory didn't want to admit to being afraid, she couldn't deny that she was very unnerved. None of this felt right. Actually…she had a very strange feeling…that maybe…they weren't alone…
"Daniel, I –"
A rough, calloused hand clasped on Emory's mouth, and another wrapped around her waist. Before she could even manage a scream, Emory was jerked away from Daniel's body. She thrashed and fought, but whoever held her was very large and muscled, and her struggles had little effect. Emory heard Daniel snarl a string of curse words, and she realized someone must be attacking him, too.
The brief disruption didn't last long, and the silence swept over them once again like a sinister cloak.
Emory's eyes were wild with fear, but there was nothing she could do. Her body was limp in her captor's fierce hold. She strained to see the outline of Daniel, and he, too, was restrained by a large man. Simultaneously, they were marched by their captors through the twisting streets of the village until they entered the town square.
A horrified gasp escaped Emory's lips at the sight. It seemed as if every citizen in the entire village had been gathered here, milling around the common with frightened animal eyes. Large men like those who had captured Emory and Daniel stood guard in a circle around the merchants. In the eerily pale moonlight, they all looked like ghosts being watched over by dark angels.
Emory and Daniel were both shoved in with the rest of the crowd while their captors left, presumably to look for more stragglers. "What's going on?" Emory whispered.
Daniel's dark eyes were as confused and horrified as her own. "I don't know," he murmured. "Could this be the Realist army?"
Emory glanced around the guardians, analyzing them for some sort of clue. They all appeared well-muscled and completely expressionless. "I suppose they could be… There's something weird about them though. Do you think they've been brain-washed by the demon?"
"It's possible. That might be how Michael got so many to join the army," Daniel agreed.
"But that doesn't explain what they're doing here with all the villagers," Emory said, exasperated. "What can Michael possibly gain from this?"
"…I don't know."
After that, there was nothing else that could really be said. They couldn't get past the ring of brain-washed guards, and even if they could, here with all the villagers was the best way to find out what was going on anyway. They simply had to wait, no matter how hard it was.
Eventually, Daniel and Emory sat down on the cobblestone of the town square, along with most everyone else. The morning hours were cold, and Emory huddled into Daniel's form for warmth. Daniel held her and did his best to comfort her and tell her everything was going to be okay without actually saying the words. Emory heard them though, and they gave her warmth much more filling than that of Daniel's body.
This lasted for several hours until, finally, the sun rose.
The castle of Acraluna was built so that when the full moon reached its peak at midnight, the moonlight would shine directly on the center of the castle courtyard. There had actually already been a village in the location, but the first king of Elodea was so entranced with the idea of having his castle built under the moon that he completely ignored this small detail. The land was cleared away of all farms and homes, and the castle was constructed exactly to the king's plan. He was like a man possessed when it came to the castle, and it was almost a shame that he died before it was even finished.
Despite all the negativity associated with the first king, no one could deny that he had an eye for glorious architecture. Acraluna became famous for being the most beautiful structure in the history of the world. The stone castle was shaped in a half-circle with the open section facing what was left of the depleted village. Twin ivory towers guarded each corner of the crescent, and a great stone gate stood between them, completing the circular castle. The king didn't want any commoners in the most prized part of his masterpiece.
It was said that the courtyard was made of solid gold. Others said it was otherworldly beauty. Some even believed the moon spirit herself had come down to build it. Legends swept across the country, but no one knew the truth.
Very few people were actually allowed in the courtyard, the sacred place where the moonlight touched, so when the king of Elodea had to make an announcement, all the people of the village would gather in the town square - which conveniently resided in front of the great stone gate – and the king would be waiting in the left ivory tower at sunrise to make his decree from there.
Then the kingdom's messengers would each go to all the major cities of the country and relay the message to the village leaders, the palace guards, and then the citizens.
With this in mind, it was painfully ironic that Michael would choose to make his wicked announcement there…in the left tower.
Daniel's arms tensed around Emory, and she instantly awoke from her light doze. She glanced around and noticed that the first tendrils of sunlight were creeping along the village. The peasants began to stir, and almost everyone was looking to the sky.
"What's going on?" Emory whispered.
Daniel helped her to her feet and pointed to the left ivory tower. "Michael," he growled.
Now, everyone's attention – both villagers and Realist guards – was completely focused on Michael. It was hard to tell from such a distance, but Michael seemed perfectly at home in the left tower as the wicked man gazed down upon them. Daniel hated him for that.
"Citizens of Elodea!" Michael announced regally, relishing in his superior position. "I am General Michael Markowitz, and I am here to announce that King Henry Markowitz…is dead!"
The entire city stilted. Gasps and shouts of protest ran through the crowd like a cold shiver. The villagers seemed outraged, but fear of the soldiers kept their burning energy within bounds…for now. But even the soldiers themselves seemed surprised at the news. They did their best not to show it, however, and stood their ground.
Michael grinned at the disruption and made a signal with his hand. As soon as he did, seven horses erupted from behind the castle and galloped down the cobblestone streets of the village. The peasants stirred, their anxiety and outrage growing with each passing horse, and this only made Michael smile wider.
"Those seven messengers are travelling to spread the word… I am the new king. And you will all submit to my rule. All palace guards and Loyalist soldiers will be immediately arrested by my troops to be interrogated and trialed. Anyone who opposes my authority will be put through the same fate. If you obey my orders, I'm sure my reign will be one of prosperity."
Michael took the moment to give a snarky little wave, and then he disappeared into the tower.
It seemed as if the villagers would fling themselves into a full-blown riot. Screams of outrage erupted from the crowd, and aggressive men began to test the boundaries of the guards. But the soldiers knew their orders well, and they instantly went into battle mode. The town square became a place of insanity as the guards tore apart the mob, escorting the troublemakers to their homes and herding the women and children like animals…
But Daniel and Emory…
Peasants and soldiers surrounded them, yet they were completely alone in the middle. Emory desperately tugged at Daniel's shirt, tears streaming down her flushed cheeks, but it was as if her screams were silent. Daniel stood shocked, his body frozen in horror. His eyes were dull and completely devoid of any emotion.
"Daniel! Daniel! Come back! We have to do something, Daniel…Daniel!"
Emory gripped her fingers in his chest, but there was still no response.
But they weren't alone, not really. A Realist soldier noticed the struggle, and he placed a firm hand on Daniel's shoulder. In that one moment, Daniel instantly came back to life.
Rage flashed in his dark eyes.