ARAETIA: A DARK FANTASY

For all his life, Christian Cross had been an outcast. The villagers had avoided him and ignored him whenever he tried to speak to them, and parents warned their children to never make contact with him. Eventually, he was known as the Devil's Child but Christian didn't really mind at all. He was happy when he was alone and he enjoyed his solitude, so the villagers were actually doing him a huge favor. What bothered him was the fact that some people treated him like an evil creature or an unwanted spirit. They spoke in hushed voices whenever he was within ear shot and a few people even made the sign of the cross when he walked past them. The reason for all this isolation and fear was because Christian could see Death. Ever since he was only a small babe, he could see the funny little creatures of death-otherwise known as Saphrites. While many had nightmares about the creatures, Christian had befriended them. Going to the Ancient Forest and talking to the Saphrites became a daily ritual and even now, at the age of seventeen, Christian often confided in them. Their silence and curious black eyes made them the perfect listeners and their lack of judgment and criticism comforted Christian.

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On this particular day, Christian's daily trip to the Ancient Forest changed his life forever.
It was a cloud cast day and the air was hot and humid. The clouds in the grey sky were huge and swollen like pregnant cows and heaviness lingered in the atmosphere. Christian quickly hurried into the village square and he let out a sigh as a crowd of school children scattered past him. They squealed and hastily ran past him, casting frightened and curious. "If they only knew…" he muttered darkly. He drew out the list of herbs his father had sent him to buy. Ignoring the furtive glances, he walked up to the Herb Stall. The old man who ran it avoided Christian's eyes while Christian handed him the list of herbs. Silently, while the old man gathered up the herbs, Christian watched a beautiful young woman walk out of the Hat Makers. She was the love of his life, and better still, she sometimes talked to him when people weren't looking. Christian impatiently paid the old man and grabbed the bag of herbs. He hurried over to the young woman and she glanced up at him, surprised.
"Good morning Christian." She smiled.
"Hello Anabeth." Christian felt his cheeks grow warm as her large blue eyes flickered over him.
"How are you?" Anabeth asked.
"Good. I'm just buying herbs for father. How about you"
Anabeth flashed pearly white teeth at him as she held up a new silk white riding hat. "I just met Jonathon. His new job at the Hat Makers allows him to get me free hats. It's fantastic, isn't it"
Christian felt his stomach twist unpleasantly. "Yes, I guess it is." He swallowed hard and he tried to gather up his courage. "Anabeth…uh…may I ask you something"
Anabeth cocked her white blonde head to one side. "Of course"
Christian took a deep breath. "WouldyouliketogototheWinterFeastwithme"
"I'm sorry. What was that?" "Would you like to go to the Winter Feast? With me?" Christian added hastily. Anabeth bit her lip and shook her head slowly, pity and amusement in her eyes. "I'm so sorry, Christian. But my fiancé is taking me"
"Fiancé?" Christian stared at her in growing dismay. "Fiancé. Jonathan asked for my hand only two days ago. Didn't you know?" Anabeth smiled at him, her eyes bright like a small love struck girl.
Christian felt a twisted sick feeling grow deep down in his stomach. "No…no I didn't." He swallowed painfully and his heart thudded. "Uh…I have to go. I'll see you at the Feast"
"Yes alright. Goodbye, Christian." Anabeth swung her silky hair around and strolled off, swinging her basket as she went.

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Christian's fist slammed into the wall.
"How could I have been so stupid?!" He slammed his fist into the wall again, releasing his pent up fury and anger. Red hot rage spilled from his dark eyes, clouding over his mind and senses. Panting, he slumped back onto his bed. "Jonathan...I should have known." He groaned and held a fisted hand to his forehead. "Of course Anabeth wouldn't fall for someone like me. Who would?" He angrily rolled over an pounded his pillow. "But Jonathan...Of course, everyone loves Jonathan"
Christian suddenly sat up, feeling ashamed and angry at himself. He was being childish, and jealous. He knew Anabeth had always loved Jonathan. She couldn't help it, especially since he was popular among the girls.
Christian stood up and paced the small room. It was unfair on Anabeth...he never should have thought of being with her. It would have only caused her pain and trouble. She would have been out casted from the village and her friends...her friends would ignore her, hate her.
And he would have also been hated more and more. Especially since Anabeth was the Pastor's daughter. He was considered to be the Devil's Child after all. But Christian knew, deep in his heart, he wasn't evil at all. His ability to see things invisible to the human eye was not a curse. Crazy as it sounds, sometimes Christian called it a gift from God. His father had even said so. "Christian," his father had said to him, when he was but young child. "Those eyes of yours are like no other. They are unique and special, and they are gifts from God Himself. You are not the Devil's Child, no matter what the villagers say." His father had then looked at Christian with such a deep contemplating look, that it scared Christian a little. After a while, his father asked him, "Are you evil, my son? Are you as dark and evil as they claim you to be"
Christian had protested and argued against it. He was not evil. He wanted to do God's will and he hated all but good things.
"Then," his father continued, "you are not the Devil's Child. You are my child." And with that, his father had enveloped him in a warm and firm hug.
But now...now the evil that was once a false accusation, had begun to grow in his heart. Hate, and pain had become the root of it, and Christian was fearful. He feared himself, and what that evil could become.
Christian ran a hand through his messy black hair. He knew, even now, that the evil in his heart, was potential of making him do horrible, deadly things. he didn't want that, not now. Not even when he had every reason to be evil, and carry out revenge-Christian didn't want anything to do with it. But it tormented him...day and night. Even now, it held heavy in his heart, and weighed him down. It made him have short sharp spurts of rage, so strong, that he tended to destroy something. Materialistically and emotionally. Christian muttered darkly under his breath as these thoughts ravaged through his mind. No matter how hard he tried he couldn't see a way out of this torment...out of this cursed paradox.
Sighing, he opened his window shutter and gasped as an icy cold wind wailed through. He peered out and saw the full moon, bright and blaring against the dark sky. As he stared outside, a strange peace settled around him. And he knew, then and there, he was not alone. There was someone out there, something great, that was about to enter his life. He didn't know how he knew all this...maybe it was just his imagination...but he felt it strongly in his heart...and all of this, was about to change.