Hey readers,

This is a bit of a different style of story. It's a dark fantasy story with a different style of ending and style of writing than I'm used to, but it popped into my head the other day and I couldn't stop until it was finished, so I hope you guys enjoy!

...

The world is dark.

The darkness covers and infects everything it touches, and the entire land is covered in black smog. The thick black smoke poisons the ground and the air and twists the minds of men and beast. Legions of undead walk the land, along with monsters you've only ever seen in your nightmares, nightmares that seem to happen more and more frequently.

The only unblighted land lies next to a watchtower that you and those who came before you still man. You are a knight, a knight of a now extinct order, which has been around for thousands of years.

The massive watchtower stands defiantly against the darkness. It's bruised and battle scarred, and parts of it face the outside world, but a massive white flame rests at the top.

The fire reaches toward the sky like a living being as it pops and crackles against the darkness. It's faded and gotten low, but it's never gone out.

The heat from the fire warms your back as you gaze out at the land, staring out at the formless black darkness. They'd come tonight, just as they had every night for the past… How long had it been?

You stand up, listening as your armor creaks and disturbs a wound you didn't know you had. You hiss in pain as your shoulder burns, but manage to hobble to the shelf and gulp down a healing potion.

The taste hits like a brick as your taste buds protest, but the pain fades.

You draw your sword, knowing in your heart that a battle will greet you soon this night.

The darkness is all powerful, all consuming, but it cannot allow even a harmless symbol of defiance to exist. What's the power of a symbol if no one is around to give it meaning? The fire is harmless and can inspire no one, it can't even warm anything but itself.

Still, the darkness wants it gone, and the darkness controls this world.

The legions of the undead, the monsters, all the evil and black magic in the world… they all converge on the tower. They seek to slay you and extinguish the hated light, that's all they know how to do.

You pause to take a breath of air, peering down from the top of the tower, and letting your mind wander to the past.

…..

In the past, there were thousands of watchtowers and fires, and thousands more knights to defend them. Those knights led armies of good people against the forces of evil, and if there was never peace, there was at least balance.

Then the darkness spread, and people began to give in.

They lied, stole, and murdered their fellow man for lust, greed, or some sick sense of justice. People gave up on the light that they had followed so willingly in the past and turned to the darkness. It was easier that way, more accepted.

Soon even noble knights became corrupted, drawing swords against the order they had served, spitting up prophecies of greed and promises of unlimited power as they tore the watchtowers down.

With each fallen tower the darkness gained more power and corrupted more souls.

Then the war changed.

The balance was shifted in the darkness's favor, and your order collapsed as betrayal and treachery ripped you apart.

That was hundreds of years ago, but you survived.

The friendship and loyalty you inspired in your allies was too strong for even the darkness to break, and you led the single branch of the order that remained alive.

Your best friends were your soldiers, the woman you loved was your second, and the fire still burned.

Then it all came apart.

The darkness had been gaining strength and your order buckled under its first true assault.

You pause in your reflections to walk down the stairs to the first floor and into the main room, and your gauntleted hands open a book. It was a book of all the men and woman who had died under the banner of this order, and like always your eyes scan the passages, turning towards the most recent page.

So many friends gone. Many had fallen under the relentless attacks of the dark, ripped apart and slaughtered like animals, while others had become corrupted and turned against you.

You've slain more friends than you care to admit with the sword you now wield. Despite the fact that you had no choice, and they wanted to die… it still hurt to read their names.

Finally, your eyes come to rest on the names of the most recently slain.

The name of the woman you loved, and the child she had carried, burn into your thoughts like a hot needle.

You remember the night she fell, as vividly as if it was yesterday.

You were both fighting against skeletons, parrying ethereal blades and shattering lifeless bones, but they kept coming and coming. Your arms burned, your side had been torn by a spear, and your leg had taken the blow of a warhammer.

Still, her presence against your back was enough to make you fight on, enough to give you hope against the impossible odds, and enough for you to claim that death's claws would not clench you tonight!

Then she screamed as a black knight knocked her sword away and she fell backward.

Before you could turn, the knight ran her through. His black blade pierced her armor and her eyes widened as she fell.

Blood, her blood, stained the wood of the floor as you charged, swinging your blade like a madman. Bones fell to the floor as you hacked them apart, cursing as the black knight dissolved into smoke.

Then you were alone as you scrambled for a potion, a scroll, even a bandage, anything to seal up the wound.

A soft whisper of your name brought your spinning mind back to reality as her fingers closed around your arm and she pulled you close.

Your lips smash into hers as she kisses you with all the force left in her body, no words are spoken, but you both exchange more information than speaking ever could.

You pull back after what seems like hours, as she rests your hand on her bloodstained stomach. Then you feel it.

The spark of a tiny life, rapidly fading along with her own, but it's there. Your eyes snap up to meet hers as she confirms it, you were going to be a father.

Then her lips open and she speaks. "Remember the greater our sorrow is, the greater our capacity is to feel joy."

Then she, and the baby she carried, were gone.

You snap back to the present, letting tears sting your eyes as you force yourself not to remember the events of the day after.

They had attacked again and seized her body before you could stop them, then they displayed her corpse like a prize, laughing and cheering as they danced around it.

You had watched the entire sick spectacle, and rage had filled your heart. You felt the darkness swarm you, it sought to be let in, sought to make you one of them, and you almost let it. You almost let the chains of despair drag you down.

Then her body disappeared.

The monsters surrounding her were just as confused as you, but your heart knew she had gone up to see the Gods she adored.

You banished the darkness from you and instead fed the fire, craving the inevitable confrontation between yourself and the monsters.

When it had finally come, you slew them all. The black knight was saved for last, and his death was the sweetest as you ran him through then hurled him from the tower.

…..

Cries and snarls filled the air as you leapt fully back into the present, rushing up the stairs towards the top of the tower.

You saw the vast multitude staring up at you, waving banners and weapons as they cheered and chanted fragments of ancient spells and prayers. There were thousands, and you were one man.

You look up at the dark sky, unable to even see the faintest glimmer of starlight to give you hope, and you mutter a prayer to the gods.

Maybe they were watching, maybe they weren't, but you needed all the help you could get… because tonight you didn't know if you would live.

You opened a box of weapons and girded yourself for war.

You put on a helmet, cloak, and took up your shield, slinging it on your back. Your sword blade was sheathed at your hip, and your belt was filled with various potions and bombs.

Then you pulled out two crossbows and loaded them with silver bolts, and finally, you pulled out a flame-blaster.

It had a trigger like a crossbow and was fully armed and loaded, according to the ancient texts you just pulled the trigger and a fire hotter than a dragon's breath would spit out of the barrel.

You didn't like putting your trust in such a… different weapon, but you had no choice.

Thunder boomed and lightning flashed as you stood at the top of the tower, and the fire hissed and thrashed about as it burned high and bright.

The monsters screamed and waved their weapons as they charged forward, and you scream back.

Then the thunder boomed again, and you took aim with the flame blaster. There was an army standing outside the gates of your tower, hoping to finally destroy the flame you commanded.

The monsters yowled, the beasts snarled, the undead moaned, and the humans among the dark host called down curses.

Then the thunder boomed for the third time, and as the lighting hit the ground, you yelled a mighty war cry.

The sound broke the trance, and the battle began.

You opened fire with the blaster, laying down a wall of flame just as the first wave of undead warriors were charging.

Skeletons screamed in pain and bones melted as they fell apart. Zombies and draugr dissolved into goopy piles of burned flesh as they screamed, letting loose howls of anguish.

You kept firing, sweeping the blaster back and forth as they advanced, their undead bodies quickly adapting. They felt no pain and no fear as they shuffled forward, but you kept blasting.

Hellhounds, wraiths, and men charged forward streaking through the flames. The smell of burned flesh and blood filled the night as they led the charge, patting themselves down as they charged through the flame wall.

And fell right into your trap.

You aimed down at the first wave and fired again, this time shooting fireballs down at them.

In the open area, surrounded by flames that prevented their escape, they burned.

The fireballs shattered them into pieces and created another wall of flame, further defending your castle from the dark legion.

You keep firing down into the dark mass, blowing their ranks apart with fireballs as ranged warriors begin hurling spears and arrows at you. The missiles clatter off the stone walls and you almost laugh at the absurdity of it all. Those missiles can't hurt you, but you can harm them!

You keep blasting, watching the beings below you scream in pain and writhe in the fire.

Then a massive sound shattered the air and dispersed the fire. A roar louder than anything you had ever heard before, and the creature it belonged to lunged forward.

It was a massive Chimera and its heads roared as it rushed towards the watchtower door.

You aimed the blaster, cursing as the weapon clicked.

You cast the weapon aside and leapt down towards the door, shoving your shoulder against it. The Chimera roared as it rammed itself against the wood, and its claws began to shred the door.

A stray blow catches your shoulder, and you wince as the claw scrapes against your steel armor. You lash out with your blade and slice a wound into the monster's head, shoving yourself against the remains of the door.

You groan as the chimera lunges again, and you take the blow on your shield, swinging your blade again and stabbing it deep into the chimera's heart.

You push the blade in up to the hilt, smiling at the monster's death cry, before you remove your sword.

As if to avenge their fallen monster, the dark legions charge forward, and you fall back. You rush up the stairs and draw your crossbows, taking aim at the remains of door.

The horde is slowed by the carcass and you fire your crossbows into the packed mass. The silver bolts gleam in the night as they embed themselves in the heads of the closest two men, slaying them outright.

You reload and fire again, and again, and again. More monsters fall, adding to the chaos of the pileup and further slowing them down.

Then a section of the wall explodes inwards.

You scream and raise your shield as the debris falls around you and a massive ogre roars at you as it drops its heavy club.

The wall crumbles under the second blow, allowing more monsters to stream in from the new hole.

You drop your crossbows and draw your sword again, perhaps for the last time, as you rush up the stairs.

Knee high goblins rush at you, waving sickles that clang against your armored legs, and you grunt at the annoyance, kicking them off the stairs to be crushed in the melee below.

Men charge at you, swinging maces, swords, axes, and spears as you fight them off, making them earn every stair step through blood. Your sword is a living being as it parries and weaves around weapons, seeking weak points and chinks in their armor. Bodies drop on the stairs or fall to the floor below as you fight like a madman.

You know that this is the night you die, there are too many foes to slay and you can only last so long. With that thought comes, acceptance, and a firm resolve to slay as many as you can.

Still numbers, even on the cramped stairwell, provide an advantage to your foes as you slowly find yourself backing up and reaching the top of the watchtower.

You rush up to the top, towards the massive bonfire that still blazes, even as the rain thunders down.

Turning, you see your enemies climb the stairs, shoving bodies and discarded weapons aside, until they make it to the top.

You keep your back to the fire as you ready yourself for the final battle, and in those few seconds of rest you gain, you pray.

If the Gods were watching you, if the friends you had lost were looking down upon you, if the woman you loved was looking with favor upon her knight… that would make your death honorable.

As if in response the fire behind you blazes upwards, throwing your enemies back in a flash of bright light and sparks, and you smile… then you charge.

You hurl yourself into the tornado of swords, and spears, and teeth, and claws. Your blade shatters the undead, slices men into ribbons and carves out the hearts of beasts. Your shield catches arrows, sword blows, spears, and you slay their owners without abandon.

The enemy mobs you, surrounds you, slices and hacks at your sides and back, and you grunt as your helmet is torn off.

Your long suffering shield shatters under the weight of a pounding mace as your arm breaks. You scream, spitting defiance into the teeth of the darkness… if they wanted darkness to cover the world, they'd have to rip you apart to get it.

You curse as a sickle hacks at your hand, and your bloody fingers lose contact with your sword.

A second blood forces you to your hands and knees as the warriors swarm you, beating and slicing at your prone form. Your armor buckles, your bones break, and your face drips blood as you struggle to stand.

Despite all the chaos around you, your mind has only one thought.

If this is how it ends, I can accept going down in this hell of a world. I fought as long as I could…

Then a sword stabs into your back, and your eyes widen for a second as your body grows cold.

Then you die, finally.

More than one opponent breathed a sigh of relief as you fell motionless, until the fire you had once guarded begins to burn brighter.

Then the Watchtower explodes.

Stone and wood shoot outward as the flame explodes into a plume of white, spreading outwards and burning the legions that had their voices raised in triumph.

The smoke in the air fades for just a moment as the fire rages, then just as quickly as it lived… it died.

The darkness swoops in and covers the land, rejoicing as the last free spot of the earth was now theirs. New legions sprang up to replace the old ones, and nothing changed.

It was as if the light had never burned in the first place.

...

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed the story! :D

This certainly was a different style of story, and a bit of dark fantasy, so I hope you enjoyed and please let me know if you would like to see more!

Also, the quote above is from Batman Identity crisis issue #1 said by none other than the Joker himself! :)

Have a great day and thank you for reading!