A/N: Light vs Dark is dedicated to phantom130 5, my new and amazing friend!
"Ages ago, darkness roamed free and our people, Shades, powerful users of the dark, were content and peaceful. Unfortunately, that life was ruined when a spark of light appeared. The light grew until it covered the earth and all its inhabitants, selfishly stealing away the darkness. Beings of light formed, called Argents, and they used their powers to push the Shades into hiding out of ignorant fear. Shades are strong and brave, so we fought the Argents to reclaim our homeland. The struggle resulted in a sharing of light and dark – day and night – causing the battles to calm somewhat, so Shades and Argents began generally keeping to themselves in their respective realms. However, the war is not over, and it will not end until there is a true victor. That victor, students, will be the Shades."
Kerra listened diligently as her professor explained the beginning of the war between dark and light, Shades and Argents. She was thirteen years old, yet she knew the story as if she had been there when it all occurred. She had heard the stories from her grandparents, her parents, her friends, strangers, school – it was everywhere. Since she was five, she had attended school to be trained in the art form of darkness, and she excelled at it. Kerra was so skilled at using her powers that she often found herself in classes with older and more experienced students.
An older boy, about sixteen, raised his hand.
"Yes, Raden?" asked the professor.
"Madam Tier, why don't we simply establish a truce with the Argents? We seem to have an assumed treaty anyway; it just makes sense. We rarely hear of attacks nowadays."
Hushed murmurs swept across the room, and everyone diverted their gazes as Madam Tier slowly approached the boy, glaring down at him as he sank further into his desk chair. Kerra peeked at her neighbor as the woman shot daggers at him with her eyes.
"I – I'm sorry. I only meant-" Raden stammered.
"You only meant that we are to appear weak? That we are to surrender what is rightfully ours to those monsters? Or that we should allow the Argents to feel empowered, therefore taking more of our land and stealing more darkness?"
"No, no. I didn't mean-"
"Raden, we are not weak. We will not bow to those murderous thieves, and we will not rest until our darkness has consumed the planet once again. As a warrior of the dark, you would do well to accept that. Is that understood?"
"Yes, Madam," he replied meekly, lowering his eyes.
"Good," she said sternly before returning to her lesson.
Kerra kept her eyes on the boy sitting next to her, sympathizing with him. His expression soured when he caught a glimpse of her looking at him. "What are you looking at?" he asked harshly. Then he mockingly added, "Light freak."
Kerra gritted her teeth and clenched her fists at the insult. Ever since she was born, there were those that feared and hated her because of her appearance. Shades came in all shapes, sizes and skin colors, but one attribute they all had in common was the darkness of their hair. Kerra was born with white hair. Some said she had been cursed by Argents, and that she possessed light, but most simply dismissed her deformity as nothing more than an ugly misfortune, especially once she began displaying so much dark power. Everything else about her was normal. She was light-skinned and had dark brown eyes like her mother, tall like her father, and she had a healthy build. In spite of her unfortunate hair color, she felt she was pretty in a plain way. Her younger sister, Sable, was blessed with their mother's beauty, while Kerra appeared more rugged like her father.
"If you're right, Raden," she whispered tauntingly, "then you better watch out, or I might suck all the darkness right out of you."
Raden's expression contorted into one of disgust, and he scoffed under his breath. "Freak."
Suddenly the bell rang, signaling the end of class. "We'll continue this tomorrow, class," announced Madam Tier.
Kerra packed her books in her satchel and wandered into the hall to find her sister. Sable found her first and tapped her on the shoulder. "Oh, hi, Sable. Ready to go home?"
"Kerra, I want to walk home with my friends today. Is that okay?" she asked, turning around toward her two girlfriends standing at a distance.
"Can't we all just walk together?" Kerra wondered aloud.
Sable bit her lip and bowed her head ashamedly. "Well… You see… It's just…"
Kerra sighed. Even her own sister would abandon her in order to make friends. "I understand," she said, trying not to sound offended. "I'll meet you at home."
The young girls giggled excitedly as Sable joined them.
The sky was dark, but Kerra had no trouble seeing. Shades naturally saw better in the dark, while Argents saw better in daylight. She studied her schoolmates as they laughed and played with each other, wishing she could develop a relationship like that with someone. I only have to prove myself, she thought. She would work harder to strengthen her dark magic, proving there was no light within her. When she accomplished that, people would accept her, and she could finally make a best friend other than her sister.
Kerra stopped suddenly when she felt something warm tug on her shoulder. It was almost as if someone was trying to get her attention. She turned, but she saw nothing and no one. Shrugging off the feeling, she continued home.
She reached the house after Sable, and her friends were already gone. Their mother, Richelle, was in the kitchen making dinner, and their father, Morris, would be leaving for work soon. Morris worked as a guard during daylight to protect the city from Argents. Argents hadn't attacked their city in over one hundred years, but it was still a necessary precaution. Kerra hoped to one day be like her father and become a journeying soldier, traveling closer to cities of light and learning everything she could about her people's enemy. You had to be very adept with dark magic in order to obtain an occupation such as that, and she was already well on her way.
She threw her satchel on the back of a chair while her sister attempted basic magic by turning a glass of water into some other liquid. Kerra smiled at her sister's strained expression. "What is it that you want?"
Sable glanced up Kerra. "Just juice," she answered, immediately returning her intense gaze toward the glass.
Kerra casually made her way behind Sable, making to pour herself a glass of water. Smiling, she stared at her sister's glass, willing the water to become orange juice. Sable gasped at the transformation, turning excitedly to Richelle. "Did you see that, Mom? It worked! I was actually hoping for grape juice, but I did it!"
Richelle smiled at her youngest daughter. "That's wonderful, Sable." Then, when Sable turned away to sip her juice, Richelle glared at Kerra. She knew she had intervened. Kerra merely sipped her own glass of water and innocently took her place at the table.
"Good evening, everyone!" Morris greeted his family happily. As he passed the window, he pulled the curtains closed as the day was already beginning to make its appearance.
"Dad!" Sable chimed. "Look what I did!" She held out her glass for him to examine. "I made water into orange juice."
"Well, look at that," he grinned, placing his hand on Kerra's shoulder and offering her a subtle wink. "That's fantastic, Sable."
"Maybe I'll be as good as Kerra one day," she beamed.
"Of course you will be! We're all powerful Shades in this household."
Kerra loved her father. He was strong, adventurous, and she felt prideful of his ability to use the dark so well, even when forced to spend his time in the light. He was also one of the kindest people she'd ever met, befriending all who met him. It was probably because of the love that people had for him that she wasn't murdered in infancy when she was born with white hair.
The evening passed quickly like all evenings seemed to do. Morris left for work, Richelle worked on chores around the house, and Kerra and Sable cleaned the kitchen. Kerra spent the remainder of her evening in her room, mostly reading her schoolbooks. When it was time for bed, she laid staring at her window, the light peeking through the bottom and sides of her curtain. Curious, she opened the curtain to see outside. The initial sting caused her to wince, but slowly she grew used to the brightness. Rays warmed her skin where they touched her; that was one aspect of light she enjoyed – warmth. The world wasn't so ugly in the light. In fact, she slightly enjoyed seeing the different colors the light created on objects. Yes, it was a bit harder for her to see, but it wasn't anything she couldn't handle.
Suddenly, the same tugging warmth surrounded her shoulders, and she closed the curtain, warily peering around her room. Dark. Quiet. What was that sensation she kept feeling? She jumped slightly when an almost ghostly laugh filled her ears. "Who's there? Who is that?" she whispered. The laughter ceased. Kerra thought she might be going crazy. Several minutes passed while she sat upright in her bed, straining to hear something else, but there was nothing. When she finally decided to lie back down, a voice began speaking to her somewhat apprehensively.
"Hello?" it asked.
She bolted upright again. "What's going on?" she asked anxiously. "Who are you?"
"My name is Luc. What's yours?"
Meanwhile, Luc sat silently, waiting for the girl he heard to respond. Was he really doing this? Did he really think he could speak to someone telepathically? He didn't know how to explain it. A few minutes earlier, as he walked down the street toward school, he heard her call out, almost as though she were standing beside him, "Who's there? Who is that?" He'd been so startled by it that he had fallen to the ground. After several minutes of sitting quietly, he decided to speak up and offer the girl his name, but now the voice was silent. Guess it was all in my imagination, he thought, getting back up off the ground.
Just as he brushed himself off, getting ready to continue his walk, the girl's voice rang in his head again, "My name is… Kerra." Luc froze and attempted to maintain his composure as his eyes darted around wildly hoping no one was aware of his insanity. He seemed to be the only one around at the moment, so he decided to speak.
"Who are you, Kerra?" he asked timidly.
Kerra thought that an odd question for someone in her head to ask. "I don't know. Who are you?"
"You don't know who you are?"
"I'm Kerra of Tormac, daughter of Morris and Richelle Marr, elder sister of Sable."
"Tormac?" he wondered. "Isn't that a city of the dark? I think I've heard of it."
"Yes, it is. I was born and raised in Tormac. My family and I still live here."
"You're a Shade, Kerra?" he asked, trying to hide the nervous quiver in his tone.
"Yes," she answered curiously. "Aren't you? I mean, you are in my head, after all." After a short pause, she added, "Are you my conscience, Luc?"
Luc slowed his heavy breathing. This can't be true, he thought, but he didn't want to omit the possibility of this being some sort of magical happening. Kerra didn't sound very old, probably the same age as himself, so maybe she wouldn't harm him if she thought he was her conscience. He might also be able to get her to tell him things, and he could learn about Shades and anything they might be planning against Argents. "Yes, I'm your conscience," he decided to tell her.
"Luc?" a girl suddenly asked him from behind. He spun around quickly until he was face to face with his classmate, Nell. "Who are you talking to?" Nell's long blond locks shifted as she tilted her head to the side inquisitively.
"Uh… no one," he answered. "I was just going over what might be on today's test out loud. It helps me think."
"Oh," she said, seemingly satisfied with his response. "Is it okay with you if we walk to school together?"
"Sure." Luc forced his lips into a grin, though internally he simply hoped that walking with her would keep the voice away. Listening carefully, he didn't hear anything further. Good, he thought.
Later in class, students were handed their tests and given a time limit in which to finish them. Normally Luc would have flown through the test, but Kerra distracted his thoughts. What if all of this is a trick? What if the Shades are trying to put darkness into me? A rush of anxiety plagued him as he wondered what would happen if people thought he was growing dark. "Ten minutes," announced the professor. Luc refocused on his test seeing that he still had eleven questions left. Quickly jotting down answers, he turned his paper over and set down his pencil.
The rest of Luc's day was filled with worry. He fled home after school, planning to take a warm shower and wash off the events of the day. He didn't even acknowledge a few of his friends that tried to get his attention. Slamming the front door of his house and locking it behind him, he knew his parents wouldn't be home until late that evening. They had some meeting to attend, they had told him.
After splashing cold water on his face from the bathroom sink, he stared at his reflection in the mirror. He didn't feel any different, and he didn't think he looked any different. He ran his fingers through his short, light brown hair, and then pulled on the skin around his blue eyes, widely opening his lids and exposing the whites. His eyes still seemed like his eyes. Maybe he had nothing to fear from the darkness after all.
After his shower, Luc decided to take a book outside and read. The book he chose to read was called, Shade Demons. He thought he knew enough about Shades, but he'd never seen one, never spoke to one, and now there was one trying to steal away his light. He knew the basic history of Shades and Argents – about how light brought Argents to life, and how Argents wanted to bring life to the planet. Being natural purveyors of death, the Shades fought the Argents, attempting to thwart their plans of prosperity for all. That's when the Argents overthrew the Shades, forcing them into a small corner of the earth, until Shades once again rebelled. Their second attack was more successful, bringing darkness back to the planet and creating the night, but they could not entirely destroy the light, which is why there was still day.
But what were these creatures? What did it mean to use the power of dark? Luc only knew what it was to use the power of light. Opening to the front page, there was an artist's rendition of a Shade. Luc studied the drawing closely. The thing looked somewhat like him in form, but emaciated with tight gray skin, thin and stringy ebony hair, dark eyes, and sharp white teeth. It truly was a grotesque image. On the next page, however, there was another artist's rendition that revealed a much more appealing and beautiful creature. It was feminine like the first picture, but with lovely curves and a statuesque figure. She also had dark hair, but it was voluminous and long, and she had deep brown skin and emerald eyes. The footnote stated that Shades were known to lure Argents by feigning beauty. Isn't there a real photograph of a Shade, Luc wondered, rather than drawings? His mind then wandered to Kerra, wondering which of these creatures most resembled her.
Moving on to a chapter detailing a Shade's use of the dark regarding magical properties, he read many different types of attacks Shades have been known to wield. One of the most dangerous attacks involved the Shade enveloping their enemy in a tangible form of darkness until it shrank into nothingness, thereby killing their opponent. Another popular attack was known to Argents as the "Walking Nightmare." This was when a Shade cursed someone with a type of insanity, causing them to always see horrid scenes whether they were asleep or not. Flipping through more attacks, Luc began to feel sick to his stomach. Lying on his back, he stared up at the sky until he fell asleep.
Much to his dismay, he was awakened by a now familiar voice. "Is that you again, Luc?" Kerra asked him.
"What?" he asked, shaking his head slightly.
"I thought I felt you again," she hummed.
"Yes, the warmth on my skin. I thought that was you. Is it not you?"
"Honestly, Kerra, I have no idea. Consciences don't usually speak to people, at least not like you and I do."
"Oh, right," she whispered.
After a minute of silence, Luc sighed. "So…" he began. "What are you doing right now?"
"Sitting on my porch and looking at the sky."
Luc looked up at the sky where he was too. The stars shone brightly against the black. "The stars are pretty, aren't they?"
"Yes, I suppose."
"They're made of light, you know. You see how pretty the light makes the dark?"
Kerra was silent for a moment before she guffawed, "What? You like the light?"
"I can appreciate it," he answered simply.
"Well, Luc, conscience or not, I cannot agree with that. If anything, the dark makes the light beautiful."
Luc sat up, a bit put off by her reaction. "What do you mean? You tell me how, then," he challenged her.
"Those stars are in the sky all the time, but you can't see them during the day because the light washes them out. But when surrounded by night, they shine. Without the dark, no one would even notice them."
Luc pondered her response momentarily. "Okay, Kerra. I'll give you this one," he smiled.
"A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That's what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is." - - Jim Morrison