Title: The Traveler

Synopsis: Set in a post apocalyptic, desert world, this is the on going story of a mysterious lone wanderer, known only as the traveler. His past is a mystery, even to himself. His only purpose is to seek out and eliminate the dark entity known only as the Shadow, an entity so powerful in it's evil, both the Dark and Light fear it...

Author's note: This story, is in a way a novel, but in a way not. I have many many ideas for directions of this story, and just as many ideas for stories involving the main character, the traveler. Therefore, I have sort of made it into an ongoing series of interconnected stories... sort of like a serial novel... or even a television show, if you wish. So therefore, I will be referring to each as an episode. Just thought I'd explain that to avoid any future confusion.

Episode Number: 001

Episode Title: Darkness in Victory

The Shadow consumed all in it's path, and the traveler hunted it....

He trudged across the flat, dry desert, the sun burning brightly in the dusty gray sky above. His beaten tan trenchcoat flapped ever slightly in rhythm with his footfalls. Upon his head, he wore a worn, brown, western style, fedora. His long, sweat-soaked black hair clung tightly to his neck, as though it were the Shadow itself, trying to strangle the life out of it's adversary. He wore what might've once been a white shirt, unbuttoned at the collar, held closed across his torso by thin leather strips. It was now gray from dirt and sweat. Upon his feet, the traveler wore dry, cracked leather boots. Two belts criss-crossed his waist, keeping two holstered, ivory handled revolvers strapped to his hips. Across his back, like an enormous leech, was slung a large, leather water sack.

Beads of sweat ran down the traveler's young, yet hardened, wind burned face. But still he continued forward, undaunted. If the heat was having any effect on him at all, he was doing well in not showing it.

His feet hit the dry, rock hard floor of the desert with a soft crunch as he walked, causing little clouds of dust to form around his boots. There was no sand in this desert, only rock hard, dry, cracked earth. There were no plants in this desert, as it was much to dry and foul for anything to live out here. Nothing short of an Undead could survive this harsh, hellish weather. No normal human being could survive a trek through this wasteland on foot. The residents of Frontier City, the town the traveler had just come from, called these wastelands the "Duhr ahcktz leMande". Translated from the New Language into the Common Tongue, this meant Path of the Damned..

The traveler was not a normal human being. And he would gladly take this journey, if it lead him to his prey: The Uzziel... the Shadow.

During the traveler's stay in Frontier, a young man, barely alive, had stumbled into town, claiming he was the sole survivor of a massacre that had taken place in Victory, the city that lay across the wasteland. Before the towns people could even take the young man to the local sick house, he died. But not before gasping out one last phrase.

"The darkness... will consume... all..."

The town priest then began ranting some nonsense about Armageddon, and the Day of Judgment. The small crowd gathered around the young man, quickly recoiled in fear, save for one lone figure...

The traveler.

He stood, gazing at the young man's corpse, intently studying it with his cold blue eyes. The young man had several deep gashes and cuts on his body, all of which bled black blood and around which the skin turned purple. All of which reeked of the evil scent that lingered on all wounds inflicted by creatures of darkness.

The wounds could've been inflicted merely by one of the many evil creatures that inhabited the area. The could've easily been inflicted by a Demonocite, or a Corpse Wolf, or even an Undead.

But for some reason, the traveler felt differently. It was something about the look in the young man's eyes when he had spoken his last words.

"The darkness... will consume... all..."

Against the advice of the townspeople, the traveler left Frontier, and began the long trek across the wasteland toward Victory.

As it was now, the traveler could just barely make out the sillouhette of what looked like a small town on the horizon as he walked.

Though outwardly, he showed no sign, inwardly the traveler was troubled. There were a lot of unanswered questions about this whole situation. The Shadow never left any survivors. Ever. It simply didn't happen. So how had that young man escaped? And along with that, how could he have survived a trek across the desert in the condition he was in, on foot? None of it made any sense.

And if the Shadow wasn't involved, why was the traveler so drawn to this town?

Almost as immediately as he had thought of them, the traveler pushed these dwellings from his mind. His goal was to find out whether or not the Shadow had been at Victory. Every other thought was irrelevant. He focused all his attention on the distant town in front of him, and trudged forward.

What felt as long as hours, but could've been as short as minutes later, the traveler arrived at the edge of Victory.

The town looked deserted and abandoned. There was near silence now, save for the low whistling of the wind that blew through.

The stench of evil was so heavy in the air, it was almost staggering.

The traveler moved forward, into the ghost town.

As he moved down the dirt road that ran down the center of Victory, the traveler gazed around at what he could tell had once been a very vibrant town.

He could sense the happiness and laughter of children who had been playing on the now empty boardwalk. He could hear the playing of the piano, the laughter, and the swinging of the batwing doors from the now lifeless saloon. He could feel the pain and anguish of a young man crying on the stoop of the sick house.

As the traveler passed the small wooden chapel in the center of town, he paused. Something dark was in that chapel... the stench of evil was heaviest there. Whatever had transformed this town into the desolate place that it now was, was in that chapel.

The traveler moved towards it.

When he reached the velvet red double doors in front of the small church, he paused and drew his twin, ivory handled, revolvers. Their polished metal gleamed brightly in the blazing sun. With his weapons drawn and at the ready, the traveler kicked open the double doors to the church.

Inside was hell.

Pews were overturned. Blood was spattered and smeared on the wall. And corpses... were everywhere. Their flesh was pale and rotting, thick black blood, much the same as the traveler had seen in Frontier, oozed from their countless wounds, most notably from their eyes.

The traveler holstered both his weapons, and slowly entered the church. He gazed slowly around at what had to be the entire towns population, slowly sizing each and every one of them up.

His gaze fell upon a particular corpse in the center of the room. It was that of a young man, with no noticeable wounds. He had long brown hair, and young handsome features. An eerily peaceful expression was on his face. And clutched tightly to his chest was an untitled, leather-bound, book.

The traveler bent down, and pried it out of the young man's cold arms, opening it to the first page. Just as he had suspected, it was a journal. The first page read:

"July 20th
Dear Journal
I normally don't do much writing, but I'm experiencing so many emotions at the moment, I simply cannot think of a better way to express them, without whooping for joy! I am so deeply in love right now, it's almost painful. Her name is Mary, and she is quite possibly the most ravishing creature in existence! She-"

Irrelevant. The traveler didn't bother reading the rest of the entry, instead flipping several pages forward:

"August 1st
Dear Journal,
I'm not really sure what I should be feeling right now. I took Mary to the dance Old Man Quister was having in his barn, and right in the middle of a dance, she collapsed! I of course rushed her to the sick house, but Doc Meyar had no idea what was wrong with her... she just fell unconscious and turned deathly cold. Doc Meyar mentioned that it the same thing had been happening to a lot of other people in town recently. None of them had yet awaken. He said it was probably best if I just left Mary at the sick house.."

The traveler was now beginning to suspect what had actually happened in this town. He read on:

"August 8th
Something absolutely horrible happened today! I feel I shall never recover from it! My Mary still hasn't awaken. What's worse is this strange, black liquid is coming from her eyes now! Doc Meyar says half the town seems to have contracted this mysterious disease! And today, when I was holding my darling's hand, praying she would awaken, and the skin of her hand slipped right off, like a glove! It was the worst thing I'd ever seen. I... I can't write anymore today."

"August 10th
My God, what is going on?! I cannot bear it any longer! Of the entire town, only seven of us remain that have not taken ill. Myself, Kyle McDarrel, Michael Furrow, Reverend Willow, Lucas Guiness, Old Man Quister, and Doc Meyar are all that are left!... And.... and... the disease has overcome my Mary... she is gone now... forever.... to think, I shall never again see her gorgeous blue eyes, her beautiful brown hair.... never again shall I feel the soft touch of her skin, or feel the thrill that ran up my spine when her lips met mine.... why had the Lord given me such a wonderful thing, if He was only going to take it away?"

"August 11th
There is no doubt in my mind, that God has abandoned our town. Those that were infected with the disease awoke today, though horribly changed! They ravenously hunger for human flesh now! Doc Meyar was attending to one as they awoke... the beast rose straight up and tore the poor man's throat out... with his teeth! I shall never forget the look on Doc Meyar's face as his life came gushing out of his ragged neck... and their eyes! The creatures' eyes, oh dear Lord, their eyes! They glow a sickly yellow, and ooze a revolting black liquid. Upon Reverend Willow's suggestion, five of the six of us that remained barricaded ourselves inside the church... Michael wasn't so lucky. He didn't make it inside, and we had to shut the door... the beasts were nearly upon us, we had to, I swear to God, we had to! I'll never forget the sound of Michael's desperate clawing at the door... or the shrieks he made when the monster's tore into him.... what have we done, sweet merciful Jesus, what have we done to deserve this?!"

The remaining pages were blank, save for a few splotches of blood here and there. The traveler tossed aside the journal and sighed. The people of this town had obviously been idiots, if they hadn't figured out-

The sound of a creaking floor board jarred the traveler from his train of thought. He whirled in the direction of the sound.

On the other side of the chapel, one of the corpses, had gotten to it's feet... a brown haired woman... with blue eyes.... that oozed a cancerous black liquid. Her lips were the blue tint of death, the skin of her left hand was completely torn off, exposing muscle and tissue. Her shredded, blood soaked blouse barely covered her. What had once been a long black skirt, was now torn to an indecently short length, just barely clinging to the dead girl's waist. She opened her dead, lifeless lips, and spoke to the traveler in a seductive, alluring tone...

"Come to me... be one with me... join us..."

The traveler just stared at her impassively.

The dead girl slowly began shambling toward him, still speaking.

"Don't be frightened... I want you.... and you want me...."

The traveler continued to just watch her.

She moved ever closer.

"Be with me..." she stopped walking now, standing just a few short feet away from the traveler. She opened her arms to him. "Come to me!"

In one swift motion, the traveler reached into his coat, drew one of his revolvers, and pointed it straight at the dead girl's face. Without hesitation, he pulled the trigger.

The back of the Undead's head exploded outward, as the bullet ripped through it's skull, splattering it's brain matter everywhere.

The dead girl fell to her knees, then fell face down, now truly dead.

The traveler holstered his gun, then walked out of the church, and into the now setting sun.

It was pretty obvious to him, that the entire town had been infected by the Noctul Virus... a virus that turned normal human beings into Undeads, sinister, cunning creatures that lusted for flesh... in every sense of the phrase, "lusting for flesh" as the female Undead had attempted with him. Every corpse in that chapel had most likely been a dormant Undead. And the young man that had crossed the desert... his wounds were more than likely swarming with the Noctul Virus.... so if the people of Frontier hadn't dealt with the body properly....

The traveler sighed... it never ended for him. And to make matters worse, this whole charade had merely been one giant wild goose chase that hadn't lead him anywhere at all closer to the Shadow. He had simply stumbled upon an idiotic town that couldn't recognize the simple and obvious symptoms of Noctul.

He unslung the water sack from his back, and untied the end, sipping from it, as he considered what he should do next. After a moment, he had decided. He would head back to Frontier, and make sure that they hadn't suffered a repeat of what had happened here, as well as restock his supplies, and gather information on the whereabouts of the Shadow. He retied the water sack, slung it back over his shoulder, and began walking. A few moments later, he had exited the town, and entered the wasteland, heading back toward Frontier. Behind him, the sky had turned from the bright blue of afternoon, to the deep purple of twilight. With all the creatures that came out after dark, crossing the wasteland at night was virtually suicide.

Suicide for a regular human, anyway.

But the traveler was no regular human.

He trudged on into the distance.

Meanwhile, back in the center of Victory, two figures stepped out in front of the chapel, from seemingly nowhere.

One was an esteemed looking, middle-aged man, with a black goatee, and wearing a long black coat. He wore mirrored spectacles over his eyes, and a black top hat upon his head. His long black hair was draped over both his shoulders. He looked very much like an undertaker.

The other figure, was a beautiful, blue eyed young woman, with long, light blonde hair. She wore a long, sleeveless white dress, and had a white feathered boa wrapped around her shoulders. She wore long, nearly shoulder length white gloves upon her smooth milky arms.

The Woman in White turned to the Man in Black. Her voice was light and soothing.

"Are you certain that test was enough, Mr. Dark?"

The Man in Black nodded, a morbid grin plastered upon his face. His voice was deep, and conniving.

"With what short time we have to prepare him, I'd say it was quite enough, Ms. Light."

"Was it really necessary to infect the whole town with that virus though, Mr. Dark?"

"Ms. Light, there is an ancient saying that goes something along the lines of.... if you're going to make an omelet, you have to crack a few eggs. The people of this town were simply the eggs that had to be cracked in order for things to work out in the larger plan. Casualties of war, if you will."

Ms. Light shook her head.

"The utter lack of respect you have for human life is revolting, Mr. Dark."

Mr. Dark snorted.

"The over amount of respect you have for it is downright nauseating, Ms. Light."

Ms. Light glared at Mr. Dark a moment longer, then turned her head in the direction the traveler had gone.

"Do you suppose he remembers the contract he made with us, those years ago?"

Again, Mr. Dark snorted.

"Of course he doesn't remember! But whether or not he remembers is irrelevant. What matters is that he follows through with it. And follow through he shall, or at least he'll die trying."

Ms. Light sighed.

"You're right, of course."

Mr. Dark nodded.

"Absolutely. I'm always right. Now come. We mustn't dawdle any longer. There is still much to be done, and very little time to do it all in!"

And with that, Mr. Dark turned, and disappeared into the shadows of the ghost town. Ms. Light gazed in the traveler's direction a bit longer, then followed, vanishing as well into the darkness of what had once been the small town of Victory....

The End of Episode One.