Author: JairoRivera PM
In a world of shadows and monsters, Enders bring balance to the land of Exsilium. But powerful forces work in the shadows and fate sends a girl down a path filled with danger and conspiracy.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy/Supernatural - Words: 5,963 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 2 - Follows: 3 - Published: 02-10-13 - id: 3099959
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Chapter 1: Shadows.
A cloud of black-death hung over the burning kingdom. The smoke blackened out the sky. Houses and buildings were burning and the streets lay crowded with the dead and dying. Most were men who had valiantly died trying to protect those they cared for but ultimately met their fate. A river of blood so dark and red painted the cobblestone streets. The screams filled the air as the survivors were hunted down.
The guardsmen had all pulled back deep into the castle hold to escape the terrible beasts that had lay waste to their once beautiful home. All the peasants had been left behind to be preyed upon by shadowy beasts. They could no longer afford to hold the outer wall without compromising their defensive line.
With no guardsmen to protect them; men, women, and children were struck down. They were no match for the Shadow spawn; the shadowy beasts born from the darkness of hearts. They were stronger than ten men, faster than any normal animal, cruel and uncaring they sought only to destroy and consume. All those who tried to escape were savagely massacred; they made no exceptions and had no mercy, they feasted on the souls of the innocent.
Crawling among the dead was a young girl. She had many cuts and bruises on her arms and legs but those were nothing compared to the deep gashes on her back. Her hair was a dark red, as dark as the pools of blood around her. Her clothes were damp with sweat, blood, and dirt. She had been crawling through the dead in a futile attempt to find her mother. She had been crawling for what seemed like hours and so far she had yet to find any sign of her mother. They had been separated when the monsters had started to attack. Her father had tried to keep the monsters at bay in order to give her and her mother some time to escape. She didn't think he had survived…
She was numbly aware of the things around her. The blood-loss kept her mind in a haze as she stumbled her way through the bodies. She was so scared; she was so scared of dying. She didn't want to die yet. She was trying with all her might to crawl to safety. She needed to find her mother. Her mother would take care of her; make all her hurts go away.
"Mom…" She let out a faint whisper.
It was then that she heard a low growling coming from behind her. Turning her body slightly she saw a hulking mass of shadow come from around the corner, picking through the bodies searching for warm meal. It walked on four massive legs. Its shape resembled that of some kind of goat demon and its body excluded wisps of shadowy smoke. She froze in place and held her breath, waiting for the monster to pass her by. Somehow it sensed her presence as it turned to look directly at her. Fear coursed through her veins as she willed what was left of her strength to pull herself up to stand and attempt to get away by foot. The monster slowly approached her, as if it were amused at her futile attempt to escape death. With a leap of its massive legs it jumped right over her and cut off her path of escape. With a motion she couldn't even follow, the beast swiped at her with its claws. A gasp left her mouth as she felt more of her blood flow down her body. It hadn't cut her deeply, it was as if it wanted to keep her alive a little bit longer to play with her some more. Nonetheless she had no more strength left in her wounded and exhausted body. She collapsed to the floor with her limbs sprawled out. The beast seemed disappointed that she couldn't entertain it longer. Its shadowy mass leered over her weak body; its massive teeth were exposed as the beast licked its chops in preparation of a tasty meal.
She stared directly into the abyss that was its eye sockets, seeming to not have eyes but just and endless expanse of white. She would not scream or cry (not that she had the strength to do so anymore). She wouldn't give the monster the satisfaction. The beast then opened its jaw and made to chomp on her.
"Die foul shadow-spawn!" a voice cried out.
Instantly the monster was thrown back as an elderly man punch it away from her. Punched it! If she hadn't been on the floor dying she might have shown just how shocked and amazed at how easy the old man made it look to simply punch a huge monster across the road.
Stumbling to get up from the surprisingly hard blow, the monster stood on all four of its massive appendages and let out a low growl at the human that had seemed to deny its food. Charging the man the beast lunged at him the beast made to bite his head off.
But the old man stood his ground; from where she was laying she could see a smirk grow on his face, as if the beast had done exactly what he wanted it to do. He spread his legs apart and assumed a stance with his left arm extended in front of him and his right arm back, making a knife hand. A blue ghostly aura shrouded his hand as he seemed to charge up his attack. He waited until the beast was right above him before he jumped from the ground. His body launched off from its place on the ground with more force than what a normal old man should have been able to produce. "Return to the void shadow beast!" the man shouted as he met the beast mid-air, shoving his right hand straight into its chest. The attack seemed to carry its momentum as it knocked the creature back. Black ichor spilled out from the wound as the monster screamed in pain. Light exploded from the wound and the beast dissolved into particles of black and white flakes. Whatever the man had done to it had seemed to have killed it.
Turning around the man rushed to her side. He kneeled down next to her and examined her wounds. "The cut isn't very deep but you have lost a lot of blood." He said to her as he examined the gashes on her chest. He continued to check her body for more wounds and muttered a curse when he found the gashes on her back. He laid her head on his knees, not minding the blood that seeped onto his clothes. "I'm sorry to tell you this; it is very likely that you are going to die. I have been searching around this place for survivors but it seems I was too late to save anyone," He said to her in a grim voice. "I am very sorry." He said sincerely.
Everything felt so cold. She was very tired, as if she could just fall into a deep sleep and never wake up. She wondered if her mother and father would be waiting for her. It just wasn't fair though. That she would die here never being able to grow up and experience life. This old man seemed to have enough power to kill those, previously thought, un-killable monsters yet he couldn't save her from death? It just wasn't fair. There had to be a way, there just had to be. She looked him right into his tired, brown eyes with her big purple ones. Silently pleading him to do something, anything! She was so scared right now. She didn't want to die.
Still looking into his eyes she simply rasped out in her soft, meek voice. "Please…"
The man said nothing as he looked into her eyes. Staring into them as if he was looking for something, when it seemed that he had found what he was looking for he nodded to himself, his decision made. "Normally, I would never do this, but seeing that you are the last survivor of this town I suppose I can make an exception." He gripped her head with his right hand and lifted her up slightly, he then positioned his left hand into the air into a knife like gesture, like how she had seen him do earlier, pointing it straight above her chest. His hand once more blazed with the same blue ethereal aura she had seen earlier. "Since you're going to die anyway, this may be your only chance for survival. Be warned though, if you do survive the right of the Ender you will never live a normal life ever again. Are you sure that death is not a preferable option?" She didn't have time to think; she could feel herself getting weaker with every passing moment. With a slight nod of her head the man cleared away his doubts. He looked her right in the eye. "I'm sorry for this." He said before plunging his glowing hand right into her chest cavity.
Nightmares of fire and death haunted her dreams. Burning faces that she could not recognize plagued her mind. She could almost hear the screams of fear and pain as shadowy monsters killed all those around her. Rivers of blood cascaded around her. Soon she was drowning in an ocean of the dark red liquid. Her muted screams heard by no one. Before the darkness could claim her, she gazed upward and saw a hand reaching out for her. She reached for her salvation and grasped the hand.
Her eyes snapped open as the nightmare ended. The light was too bright and she quickly closed them. She was content to lie there as the haze of her mind dissipated. The first thing she was of aware of was the sounds of talking and movement. Her eyes were still closed and her body seemed reluctant to wake up. She could feel her torso throb as if it were sore. She could feel that she was laying on something soft with something warm was on top of her; it must have been a bed and blanket. She now could smell the delicious scent of food wafting from somewhere and her stomach growled in response.
She was confused as to where she was until the events of her past memories rushed into her head. Oddly enough she didn't feel sad, scared, shocked, or well…anything! It seemed odd to her that she didn't have any sort of emotional reaction to the horrible event that had happened. In fact it seemed as if her emotions were dulled, instead of the sharp feeling of what they used to be.
Deciding that she better investigate what was going on she opened her eyes and let her eyes adjust to the light of the room she was in. Blinking a few times she got used to the light and stared up at the wooden ceiling above her. She tried to move her arms in an attempt to sit up but she lacked the strength to. Choosing to instead just turn her head she examined the room, it was pretty small with sparse furniture except for another bed and a dresser. A big oak door sat at the far end of the room next to the second bed. There wasn't anyone else in the room and from what she could tell she was in an inn or a tavern. The old man must have brought her here after he did…whatever it was that he did to her.
Her chest seemed to throb in response as she remembered the old man stab his hand right into her. It had hurt badly; the pain had caused her to black out almost immediately. She was surprised that she wasn't dead, surely stabbing her in the heart would have killed her and last time she checked she wasn't immortal or something.
Hearing footsteps approach from the outside she turned her head back to the door. Soon enough the door opened and the old man entered the room carrying a tray with a bowl and glass of water. He was walking backwards as he pushed the door opened he turned and faced her. His white, hairy eyebrows rose as he saw that she was now awake. "I'm glad to see that you have awakened. I was starting to think that you never would." Walking over to her bedside he placed the tray on something behind her that she was not able to see. He kneeled in front of her and placed his hand on her forehead, moving some of her long- hair out of the way. "It seems that your fever has gone down, that's good. I was afraid that your body might succumb to illness seeing as your body was so weakened. I am glad to see that you are now awake. Tell me, how do you feel?" He asked her.
She was about to speak up when she realized that her throat was dryer than the Egaio desert. "Water" she rasped out. Hearing her request the man tilted her head up and raised the glass to her lips. She tried to drink as much as she could but it ended up going down the wrong tube.
The old man pulled away the glass as she sputtered and coughed. "Easy now, you need to drink small sips at first and let your body get used to drinking water again." He once again put the glass up to her lips and tilted it for her to drink. This time she took smaller sips of water and let the water gently go down her throat. The man put down the glass when she had drank it all. He then gently rested her head back down on the pillow. She couldn't help but notice how gentle he was it sort of reminded her of her mother-
Her eyes widened as she remembered exactly what had happened before she had blacked out. She turned her head to face the old man before speaking. "Old man, what exactly did you do to me? How am I alive? What happened to my mother? What were those monsters?" She would have continued her interrogation, but the old man interrupted her.
"Woah there! One at a time. I won't be able to keep up if you ask them that quickly." The old man said in his deep voice."Now then; what did you want to know?"
She considered what question she should ask first; there were many but she decided to ask the simplest one. "What happened?"
"A wise question; I suppose I should start with an introduction of who I am first, as that will help explain some of your future questions. My name is Nezbit Naghtal and I am an Ender."The man introduced himself. The man saw the confusion on her face and continued his explanation." An Ender is a servant of the world's spirit. We are granted abilities to control the elements of the world in exchange for our servitude. What we do is correct imbalances between this world and the next. Those monsters that destroyed your home are called the Shadow spawn. They are wounds in the world born from the darkness in men's heart. We banish them back to the void before they consume it in darkness." The girl looked at the man with a new light as she heard about what this man's job was. The man saw the awe in her eyes and allowed himself to get a bit smug. He gave her a closed eyed grin before he continued his explanation." The Shadow spawn gain more power from devouring the life essence of humans. This is why they attacked your town; they wanted to harvest a large amount of life essence and they succeeded, for the most part." The man grumbled the last part under his breath. "I managed to kill all the attacking monsters before they could make off with their harvest." He explained to her.
"But what happened to my mother?" She asked him.
He closed his eyes in thought; a regretful look on his face. "When I found you; the entire area outside of the castle walls was devoid of life. Like I told you before, you were the only person I managed to find. You're very lucky to have survived an encounter with the dreaded Shadow spawn. Not many non-Enders can attest to that." The man looked to her face, pleading him to give her a positive answer. He sighed as he crossed his arms in front of his chest. He didn't like giving people false hope. He had lived long enough to know what that did to people; they became deluded and their disappointment would crush them as the hard truth came to light. But he couldn't bring himself to look at her cute little face and tell her that her mother was most likely dead. So he resigned himself to give a little bit of hope. "She might've escaped the whole town completely. After I had performed the Ender right on you I went to the castle hold to seek a safe place to let you rest. I didn't find anyone who recognized you so I can only assume that she escaped the town. She might've returned to look for you, if you would like I will go look for her but I can offer you no promises. Is this acceptable?" He asked her. She slowly nodded her head in understanding. She knew the likeliness of her mother to be low, but she couldn't give up on her mother. She would hold onto her hope that they would be reunited. She knew her father was dead as he had tried to hold off the shadow beasts' so that her mother and she could escape. She saw what those monsters could do to a man in full armor with a weapon to protect him. It wasn't a pretty sight and her father had none of those things. He was just a simple baker with a ladle. There was no way he could've fought off the beast.
By this point she was staring up at the ceiling. Tears streamed from her eyes at the thought of her father death. The old man stroked her head in a comforting manner, letting the girl cry her sadness out. This continued for some time until she had calmed down enough. The old man wiped her tears away as she still could not fully utilize her body yet; speaking of which.
"Old man, what did you do to me?" she asked in a quiet voice. She could still remember the unnatural aura that surrounded his hands. She could feel her chest throb in remembrance of him cutting her open. She didn't understand why she feared what he would say next. As if she dreaded hearing the answer he was to give her. For his part the old man considered his next words but decided to just be blunt about what he had done. What he would say next she would remember for the rest of her life.
"It's simple. I merely ripped out your heart." He said non-chalauntly.
Her eyes opened wide and she somehow mustered the strength to throw off her covers to reveal her bandaged torso. He didn't stop her when she started to undo the bandages wrapped around her torso. When she had finally managed to peel them off she saw a scar that sat directly over her heart; it was crossed in an x-shape. The scar had seemed as if it had been sown closed by itself. She stared at the place the man had apparently ripped her heart out with a stunned expression. She slowly turned to look at the man with a look that demanded an explanation. How was she even alive and breathing? How was it possible for someone to simply have their vital organ violently plucked out and for them to still be among the living?
"From the look on your face I can tell that you're wondering how you're even alive. Well the answer is a little bit complicated so I'm going to give you the short version. I essentially replaced your heart with a direct link with the spirit of the world to cause your body to rapidly heal its injuries with the use of the source of all life. I made you an Ender." To prove his point, he opened his shirt to expose an old wrinkled body. He still looked good for an old man as his body hadn't degraded as much as an old man normally would. The thing that stood out the most though was the scar that sat on his chest. It was crossed in an x-shape and looked as if it had been stitched back together by itself. The wound looked older though and more healed. A sign that he had been alive for quite a long time; it also showed that he had the same thing done to him when he had been…converted into an Ender. The man closed his shirt, having exposed his body to a minor for long enough.
With all the revelations of today, the girl couldn't take it anymore as the exhaustion of both her mind and body took its toll and caused her to faint. She once again receded back into the realm of unconsciousness.
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When she had once again regained consciousness Nezbit had calmed her fears and explained that no; Enders were not vampires nor was she some kind of soulless undead zombie. With her fears put to rest Nezbit continued answered her questions about what being and Ender exactly meant.
"By performing the right of the Ender on you; your body was strengthened and your injuries were healed as the connection in your chest empowered your body and made it stronger. You are lucky to have survived it at all as the rate of survival is very low to those who go through it. But do not think that just because you have survived the ritual that you can wear the title of Ender. It is a name given to those who serve the will of the world and it is an honor to be recognized as one. Well it's an honor only to those who bear our connection to the planet. Normal humans fear our power and the dark ritual that kills most that go through it. This is why I was reluctant to perform it on you as those only with a high amount of will-power to hold onto life long enough can survive it." The man explained.
"Does this mean that I can do magic?" She asked with some excitement in her voice. Although coming out of her it was barely noticeable and her voice sounded very plain. Her emotions were still dulled for some reason and she couldn't figure out why.
"Magic!? Bah! Magic is all smoke and mirrors. Our power is the ability to borrow the power of the planet in order to enforce our will on our surroundings. It's not some voodoo hocus pocus stuff!" He said with much offense it his voice. It seemed that he really didn't like it when people referred to his ability as magic. His reaction told it all.
"But isn't magic just the use of will power to-"
"No! Our power is different!"
"No buts!" he exclaimed. It seemed he was really set on this.
Deciding to just accept what he said for now she went on to ask the question that had been on her mind." So what happens to me now? I've become an Ender. Do I have to serve the planet or something now? What about the supposed abilities that I have now. Will you teach me how to control them? If my mother is alive, how is she going to react to this? You said that most people were fearful of this power. What if she doesn't want me anymore? What will I do?" She felt uncertainty plague her mind and she felt something in her chest tense up. Her future was so uncertain now.
"Do not fret child," Nezbit said going back into sagely old man mode again after his little outburst about what his power was." I am sure that your mother, if she is alive, will understand your situation. On the matter of your power though. I cannot allow you to just keep on living without proper training in the Ender arts. There is much that you will need to learn and for you to understand. I am sorry to have taken away your future but your path has decided. You will be an Ender; you will be a balancer of the forces that be. There is no other alternative. Once you have been turned you cannot reverse the process. The connection in your chest is the only thing keeping you alive right now. The link will cause an impulsion in you to go where the imbalances are. If you are not properly able to handle them you are most certain to die." He let the statement sink in a bit. He hoped she would accept that her fate had been forced out of her hands by him. He hoped that she would forgive him for that and understand that when he had given her the choice of going through with the ritual that it had been a choice between certain death and a possibility of survival. It was a desperate situation that needed a desperate solution. She could not hold him responsible for not having enough time to explain to her what would happen to her if she went through with the ritual.
"In any case you will be trained by another Ender in everything you will need to know. Don't worry; you will be taken care of." He placed a hand on her head and gave her a reassuring smile.
It seemed to have worked as the tight feeling in her chest disappeared and relief replaced it, although, something about what he said worried her. "You said another Ender would train me. Why can't you?" She asked. She liked Nezbit; he had saved her from the monsters and saved her life. He seemed to be really string and probably one of the best if his age indicated anything. If she was to be trained she definitely wouldn't mind being trained by him.
Nezbit's smile tightened on his face. He had hoped he could put off answering this question, but it seemed that it would not be so. With a sigh he resolved to take her disappointment." I am sorry to tell you this but I cannot train you." Before she could say anything he held up his hand in an order for her to listen to his explanation first. "The power I wield is not exactly…normal. My power is rare and very, very few can use it. I am doubtful that you will be able to exhibit the same ability as me." He explained to her. 'Besides, I am still reluctant to take on another student considering what happened the last time…' He thought to himself.
Her disappointment was clear on her face, as expressionless as she was, that was another thing that had been bothering her. Her emotions were still dulled and it was beginning to worry her. She initially thought that it was because that she had barely woken up and that she was just tired from her traumatic experience. But she was more awake now, and yet, they still had not returned to normal. "Nezbit there is something that has been worrying me. It's hard to explain but my emotions are…I don't know, out of whack? They are dull and I cannot properly feel them." She expressed her fear to him.
"Ah, I was wondering if you would be one of them. You have nothing to worry about, this happens to some of those who become Ender's. They have a stronger connection to the planet than most. They do not have more power but they can feel the will of the mother spirit through their emotions. I assume that in order to know the difference between their feelings and the spirits, there emotional capacity it dulled. From what I have been told; you will feel the planets will more vividly than you feel yours." He could see that she was still concerned. "Do not fret, this is a gift from the spirit. You will be able to experience things that others will never be able to comprehend. I do not know how much stronger your link is, or how it will affect you, but I'm sure we can find you a teacher that will help explain things." He saw that she was still worried but otherwise, had accepted his explanation. Honestly, what were the odds of someone being a seer? Especially someone he had converted. Did his power have anything to do with it? There were still things that even he did not understand or know. As old as he was he still had much to learn about the mystical power of the Ender.
"Oh, I can't believe I forgot to ask you this. What is your name young girl? This has been bothering me for weeks!" The old man exclaimed.
"Weeks!? How long was I unconscious for?" She asked alarmed.
"Well, I would say it has been around three weeks since I found you."
"Three weeks!" She exclaimed. Just how much damage had been done to her body that she had been unconscious for that long? It was mind boggling to think that she had slept through three weeks of her life. Her mother must have been worried herself sick, if she was indeed alive.
"Yes yes, very shocking but I believe I asked you for your name." He reminded her.
"Its Ailyaa-"Her thoughts grounded to a halt as she realized that she did not know what her last name was. How was this possible? Why couldn't she remember something so simple as her last name?
Nezbit saw the alarm on her face. "What's wrong?" He asked, concerned.
"My last name…I can't…I can't recall what it was. How can this be possible? I can remember my name just fine but my last name escapes me. What is happening?" she asked with panic coming though her mostly toneless voice.
Nezbits' eyebrows rose in surprise. Memory loss? What was the cause of it? Perhaps he should take a look into her soul when she was more recovered. Most people didn't know this, but the memories were not stored in the mind but the soul. People were who they were because of all the things that had happened in their life. Their experiences had shaped who they were and had made an impression on the spirit that resided in everybody. For someone to not be able to remember something as simple as their last name, meant that there was some kind of imbalance in the energies that composed their soul. It was lucky that his power was suited for this kind of thing otherwise he would have no way to help her. But that would have to wait as it was dangerous to mess with someone's soul when their body was weak, as the body was part of the soul. If whatever it was that was causing the blockage somehow disrupted the flow of energies enough when it was resolved, it could possibly fracture her soul and kill her. It was best just to wait and let her body recover for now.
"Don't worry about that for now. You need to focus on resting that body of yours. You still have not recovered fully even with the power of the spirit now in you." It was probably the disruption in her soul that was causing the slow recovery. It would explain her three week coma." I'm sure your last name will come to you in time. For now, just rest and I will return to the town to look for your mother. We are not that far away from where I found you and the person who runs the Inn here is a friend of mine. You will be safe and taken care of until I return from my searches. Plus, I'm sure there is another Ender around here somewhere lurking in the shadows as they tend to do. You will be safe from any Shadow spawn attack that might happen, or well, just about any kind of attack. I will ask them to watch over you for me." With that the old man grabbed the trey that he had carried into the room. He placed the empty glass and bowl on top of it. He stood up and walked up to head outside of the room. But before he left Ailyaa spoke up and asked him one more question.
"Do you have any clothe that I can wear? When I looked at my scar earlier; I noticed that I was completely naked except for the bandages that covered some places." She asked him with innocence that only a little girl could say in concern with her modesty. She knew that she wasn't supposed to be naked in front of others, especially men as her mother had told her, but she knew she could trust the old man that had been taking care of her for three weeks.
For his part, Nezbit could only rub his head in embarrassment at his lack of foresight. He had forgotten that he had discarded her ruined clothes when he had treated her wounds. He had wrapped her in his travel cloak (which was now ruined. Such a shame, he was rather fond of that cloak) when he had brought her to the Inn they were in now. He supposed he would have to find something suitable for her to wear. If he remembered correctly, his friend had a daughter that was now grown up. Perhaps they had kept some of her old clothes? He would have to find out. "Ah yes! That. Uh, give me a few minutes and I will see what I can do. For now just stay in under your covers, no one but me should come in here anyway so you should be fine for now.
With that Nezbit exited the room. Ailyaa stared at where he had left before she turned her gaze back up to the ceiling. Ever since she had woken up she had been assaulted with revelations and information about something she had no idea even existed. Her future was so uncertain and there was many questions still unanswered. The exact fate of her mother, what would happen now that she had become an Ender? What exactly was the spirit Nezbit had been referring to? Why couldn't she remember her last name? So many questions, not enough answers.
Ailyaa felt the tiredness return to her and soon she fell into a deep, un-restful sleep. Images of the horrors she had witnessed returning to her in her dreams. But there was one moment of peace as the memory of Nezbit standing defiantly in front of the Shadow spawn played through her mind.
She could still remember the smirk on his face. It was filled with confidence and it showed that Nezbit was not one to be trifled with.
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End of Chapter One.
A/N: Hello there! I am Jairo Rivera. I hoped you liked this story. So leave me a review and tell me what you thought of it.