The Shore

The waves had carried the small boat to the shore. She didn’t know where it could have come from but somehow it felt it had arrived right where it should be. As she approached she noticed the young man, lying in it, his face pale and his side bloody. His breath was ragged, his skin was cold and yet he was obviously burning with fever. He was dying. She knew it immediately. He was dying and there was nothing she could do. Nothing to save him at least, but perhaps she could ease his pain. The heavy wrinkles were unmistakable traces of the suffering. They were not scars and yet they were, momentary scars of the turmoil that went on inside. He was dying and she wanted to help.

How she managed to make her voice carry to the castle she couldn’t say, all she knew is that it had and somehow the guards had found her. She had given orders and the young man had been carried to a room in the high tower, her room – she would sleep in her sister’s, it was long unoccupied anyway. Her father had come with the doctor, finding her on her knees, by the large bed, lost in her patient’s form. Her patient he was now, for even after the doctor repeated the words she had already formulated in her own mind, she insisted that she would nurse him. Perhaps not back to health but at least to a more painless death. She would nurse him if none other would try, even if were to fail, even if he died. He wouldn’t die though, she could feel it. Or at least she hoped so with all her heart, day and night, by his side, she hoped and hoped. She would not stop hoping. She simply could not. Even thought she knew perfectly well that she didn’t know him, he was nobody to her, but she had found him on the beach and thus it had become her duty to take care of him.

Day and night. Night and day. Day after day. Week after week. For months she remained by his side, only leaving to attain to the basics of her status as the castle’s lady and to sustain her self. A full moon came and went and he remained bed-ridden, shivering with cold and burning up at the same time, unresponsive but breathing. He was alive. Alive weeks after the short time the doctor had given him, alive in spite of all common sense. Hanging by a thread of sheer willpower, or luck, or divine clemency – she could not say – and taking in breath after breath, each ragged and difficult, but taken in nonetheless. Finally, one fine morning, as winter began to melt upon the world and the sun rose to the east, after refusing to go away for so long, the wound at his side finally shed its last bloody tear.

No matter the cataplasms, the potions or the spells, nothing had worked, it had kept spilling the life out of him, each day annulling the care that the lady had put into treating and keeping the young man on the edge of the last breath. Nothing had worked. It was cleaned, disinfected and stitched shut each night, and every morning it would be found open again, spewing blood. Not profusely but never a small enough amount to hope for him to recover. However, that one morning it had stopped, after hours upon hours of sweat and prayers, after days of struggling and nights of wakes, as the young woman woke up she saw no blood. It had refused to close, the deep and fateful cut as fresh as on the first day she had laid eyes on him, but bleeding no more. The day had passed and although his state had not changed in any way, it had not gotten worse. Then came night and then day again, with no sleep on her part, no rest for her weary heart and mind, which over time had grown accustomed to his uneven breathing and the boiling chill of his skin.

It was on the first light of the next day that the countless prayers she had thrown into the air, all the hopes she had kept afloat for so long, for the first time, crystalized into something beautiful. A single tear, running from the corner of the eye to the corner of the mouth. It glided soundlessly on the pallor of his skin, stopped only by her finger as she ran it on his cheek. Awestruck, she had seen the water collect and the power of gravity slowly do its deed as it attracted the painful rains to the ground. She could barely believe it but, refusing to let this miracle be lost, she let her hand shoot to his cheek without a second though and collected the living pearl. Reflexively, as her fingers touched the cold and gruff surface, she let them keep contact and run further, along the hill of his cheekbone to the ledge of his jaw line. A small beard had begun growing again and the fever had kept him at the edge of freezing and boiling, and yet, under her finger, nothing had ever felt more soft.

Still in the most complete of silence, a small wind began to blow through the half-open window and sunlight poured in over the bed. Suddenly, the world seemed to halt as she felt it. It was lightning quick and softer even than the songs of birds outside, yet she had felt it. As clear as she saw the tear run along her finger now and as strongly as she heard his ragged struggle for life, something she felt she had not in an eternity. A heartbeat. A single, solitary heartbeat, lacking strength, lacking its ever-present echo, but a heartbeat nonetheless. There, in the morning-lit room, where the dead man had kept bleeding for so long, and where silence reigned unchallenged, her shoulders began to shake…


The scene where it all begins again.

In a part of the story inspired by an old legend.

Butterfly

.

Their cries echo so far away

And I smile under this bright day,

I can hear them in the distance;

Despite this heavenly burden,

Unwavering, I keep my stance,

For this moment is my guerdon,

The sole goal of my existence,

That is the path I have taken

With fortitude and unshaken

Despite my father’s insistence,

I have succeeded in this quest

Throwing away my subsistence,

How it feels numb to be the best;

I can see her in the distance

As I kneel back down on the ground,

She cries but I can hear no sound…

.

Feather for the hero

.

When steel and flesh cruelly met

Then echoed off a single cry,

And, from this live tragedy’s set,

Unseen from all, hidden in light,

Flew off a silver butterfly

Into the blue sky taking flight.

Symbol of love, symbol of hope,

What means this mysterious trope?

A single last word of farewell

From a lone heart to another,

Born from the most powerful spell

Second only to a mother.

.

Daily Prompt: Mystical

The god of the well


He looked back up at the woman dressed in a deep-violet-colored robe, unsure if he had heard well.

“You must undress before you enter the water”, she repeated with a flat voice.

A light breeze was flowing making the thin cloth flutter around her body and her short raven-colored hair ripple in waves. Her emerald eyes however were fixed on him and did not waver, he felt that she was somehow peering directly into his soul.

“The guardians of the lake will not be pleased to meet you if you are tainted with earthly possessions, one must enter pure of body to hope to have a chance to communicate with them”, she added .

Her voice echoed around them against the stone and mud walls, reverberating infinitely in his ears. He knew she was serious but he couldn’t help being a tad unwilling to comply. Being naked in front of her was the least of the reasons he could think of: the air was cold, he could see the small clouds of steam coming out of his mouth each time he breathed, and he was sure the water would be even colder. What really bothered him however was the idea of leaving his equipment behind, he knew enough to not blindly trust the sorceress nor the guardians and yet he had to do this without any means to defend himself in case something happened… He looked up at the sky, only partially visible even through the gigantic opening. The myriads of stars paled against the brightness of the Rift’s bluish glow that illuminated the aethers. The night was dark, as dark as it could have been. Apart from his breathing and the slight rustling of the clothes, everything was silent, even the water, as if nature around the lake had gone to sleep.

“You have to decide soon, traveller. The spirits will not be patient indefinitely…”

He turned to her once more, her pale face reflected the bluish gleam of the night, before setting his eyes on the dark body of water. It was even darker than the sky, barely reflecting the scar on its ink-black surface. Unmoving, its calm stillness not even disrupted by a single ripple, it seemed like black mirror made of onyx, darker than darkness itself, barely visible to the human eye as if it sucked in all the light around. He had never seen such a sight. He had never felt such a thing either. He could feel its cold presence emanating from the darkness and saturating the whole space. He knew he had to go in, not out of duty or necessity but, for once, out of curiosity. He had to. If he didn’t then he would never know… But if he did… The thought made him shiver. He felt like a butterfly flying towards a bright fire, blinded by the light and not realizing it would burn itself.

The stillness of the black body of liquid in front of him was eerie, but it wasn’t that or the freezing temperature that covered his skin with goosebumps. No. It was the things he had heard about it, about those who had tried such a thing before him. Tales of madness and death, crippling pain of unimaginable proportions and visions that would shatter more than one sane soul. Plus the look the robed woman was shooting at him wasn’t reassuring one bit. He took a quick glance at her once again, his dark gaze meeting her emerald one. Her face betrayed no emotion but he could have sworn he had seen the shadow of a smile flash through her eyes. Even the resemblance was eerie… But he couldn’t be thinking about that right now. He took in a deep breath and steeled his resolve.

He might have seemed calm in appearance but, as he began undressing himself, his heart was racing and his mind was in overdrive. What if something happened? Would he be able to react in time? Would he even know how to react? Slowly he took each and every piece of cloth on his body off. He felt his cheeks burn as he started undressing. The fresh breeze on his skin made him shiver. Finally, once he found himself in nothing but his underwear he looked at the sorceress again.

“You are on the right path, traveller…”, she commented with a smirk.

He sighed, knowing she was enjoying every bit of this, that she would not advert her gaze and that it was useless to try to cover himself for it would remain intently fixed on him. Finally he took the last piece of cloth off. Once it was done he felt completely vulnerable, more than he had ever felt in his life. And he couldn’t be sure it was because of what he was going to attempt… He took off the necklace around his neck and carefully places the silver pendant on the top of the pile of clothes. If he had been less worried he might have chuckled at the slightly ironic sight of the finely designed butterfly. He then turned towards the lake. He sighed once more before taking a tentative step towards the dark and completely still body of water, feeling her gaze on himself with every step.

As his bare foot touched the cold water it sent a unique ripple throughout its surface. The breeze got stronger as he began entering the water. He clenched his jaw and wondered what he would find on the other side, trying his best to take his mind of the freezing temperature. It took him an eternity to reach a waist-level depth but as soon as he did he felt an intense wave of magic hit him at full force. It surrounded him and grasped his body and mind like a vice. He tried to stop it, to resist, almost backing out of the lake, but found himself unable to keep control over his limbs, they wouldn’t respond to him anymore. He knew his will to be strong but against such a quick and powerful aggression, and having to face the freezing temperature of the lake, he had not been able to react in time.

He cursed himself for his carelessness, barely halfway in and he was already caught in a trap. He tried to free himself from this unknown power but it was as if he was an insect caught in a spider’s web, the more he resisted, the more he lost control. Slowly he felt himself be pulled towards the depth of the water by invisible but irresistible strings. He wanted to turn around, to yell at her for betraying him, he wanted to let his fury rage about but he was frustratingly unable to do anything except witness his own demise… As he was about to be completely submerged in the cold darkness, he heard the voice of the sorceress behind him.

“Now you must surrender everything you are to them, otherwise he will never see you… And so will your friends…”, she said with a wide smirk before turning around and slowly disappearing into the night.

That was the last thing he heard before the strings dragged him into the depths and the lake swallowed him whole. As the ripples faded away on its surface the breeze calmed down and everything became still again. It was as if nothing had ever happened, the only remainder of a human presence was the pile of clothes atop which was placed the silvery pendant, gleaming as it reflected the bluish light of the Rift.


Here is a scene I have had in mind for quite some time now and that I finally came around to write for this prompt.

I hope you enjoy it despite perhaps not getting everything.

via Daily Prompt: Mystical

Writer thoughts about writing

As a reader, or perhaps a writer your self, you may have a certain idea of what an author’s vision about his story is like. A few years ago, before I really started to work on my ideas and try to put them down on paper, I had such a vision (which I kept for a long time and only recently realized it might not always be the case): to me an author (but it also applies to any other creations) is the master of his world, everything they say is considered ‘canon’ in the story, no matter if it is good or bad. They are the ones who imagined the universe, the characters and the whole plot of the story they tell (whether it’s inspired by real events, like historical books, or based off another story or completely made up, doesn’t matter) and so they are the ones who can whatever they want about the story, and that despite all that other people might say.

A few examples of this are when J.K. Rowling said that in her mind Dumbledore was gay, fact that was not ever mentioned in the stories though it may have been implied a little. It was quite a controversial announcement and many people were not okay with that. The fact is, however, that it’s her universe, whatever she imagines in the books is her decision and cannot be contested. Criticized yes but never contested. It is fact. Or when George Lucas imposed his changing vision of the Star Wars franchise on his fans, changing beloved details to satisfy the image of the movies and the universe he had. Perhaps it’s not exactly the same but to me they have the right to do that, it is, after all, their universes and their creations. I, myself, don’t condone all the decision Lucas made for example, a lot of the CGI that was added afterwards takes out the nostalgia and the charm of the original movies, but I respect it is his decision to offer his ‘true’ vision to his fans. However I also support the fact that he should allow people to have access to the ‘original movies’, when they were still untouched or barely changed. Not just to please them but also because it feel right because they were still good at that stage, perhaps even a bit better than before being changed. Plus it might be financially very profitable to the owner of the licence.

Anyways, this is just to say that an author is the reigning decision maker about his own stories or universes! But one cannot forget that it is also the fans that make the story popular and give the author credit by loving it and making it known. The fans take the universe and make it their own, each person takes it for themselves, that cannot be denied. Still, the author is ultimately the one who decides what comes out in the end, and that should always be independent of the fans, it should his or her own decision. As a fan you have to respect that. I know it’s hard, I for one had trouble accepting that when I read the end of the Inheritence cycle, I was so frustrated by how Paolini had decided to end the cycle, it didn’t feel right because there were still so many questions and things that hadn’t been explored… Or when I read Incarceron, a very good book in two parts by Catherine Fisher, and I found out at the end of the second book that the story ended like that despite me wanting something else so desperately… Yeah, it was hard. It took me time to get over it but, and I think starting to write my own stories helped, we all have to understand that an author has a precise vision for what they want to create and there is nothing we can do about it (especially when it’s already done), it is how it is. Just like real life. You can’t always get what you want, despite how hard you wish for it, so you come to terms with it and keep moving on.

This leads us to the point I wanted to make here. As and author I have realized that I have a precise vision of what I want to make but also that I don’t know everything about my story. In the general public’s idea, an author is thought to have a very precise idea of everything he writes, to know all about his story. As a writer, thought amateur, I can tell you it is very far from the truth, for me at least. I know what I want to create for my stories, I know what will be liked and what might not be, and I know I don’t care because this is what I want to write. But I also know that I have blanks and things that are blurry all over the place. You see, I don’t really feel, like you might imagine, as the creator of my stories in a sense. What I mean is that I am at the same time the ‘god’ reigning over the universe I imagine, knowing everything and capable of anything I want, like bending the rules or creating new ones. I don’t really feel like that. Of course I am the one who imagine the universe and the characters and the plot, and perhaps I was such an entity at the beginning, when I was still playing ‘who has the most Super Sayan transformations’ with my brother in our garden, but now I feel different.

I feel like I am more of an observer, a semi-omniscient narrator/viewer of the stories I create. I have scenes and ideas that pop into my head but it is difficult to say if I really decided to imagine them or if they came to me, created by the world itself. It’s complicated to make the difference at this point. Of course I still make decisions from time to time, like in Echoes of Power, which is a story about a teenager discovering he can use magic, where I consciously decided what the main character look like to sort of make a point, instead of simply let my imagination follow its own course. I, as a writer, am more of a historian, glimpsing moments and scenes of the story and discovering it piece by piece, than a true godly creator. At least that is how I feel. And I think that I am not alone, I think a lot of other creators are like this. That idea came to me when I was thinking about an eventual interview I might give one day, when I have become rich and famous and people want to know all about my stories, I asked myself: what if they ask me a question I don’t know the answer to? Like, what happened to this character to make him become like this? What if I know that something happened but I can’t say what exactly…? Will it make me look like a bad author? And I realized that no, it wouldn’t. I might be looked at weirdly but what i have created and written doesn’t need to have answers to everything. Realism, making the story believable doesn’t necessarily mean to be able to explain everything, just like with History. Which, ironically, makes this more realistic, more life-like…

Anyways! This is a rant I wanted to get out to you readers and authors, ask as many questions as you want but if you don’t get an answer or don’t get one that satisfies you because you are not okay with what the creator of your beloved story made something different from what you had hoped, remember that in the realm of the story, the author is king. and if he doesn’t have the answer it doesn’t mean something has no explanation, that is where ‘canon’ ends and ‘fanfiction’ begins, where you make the story’s universe your own. Respect the bad and blurry sides of what you love and enjoy, imperfections are what makes something perfect! (Such cool, very philosophy, so wow!)

Okay, that’s all! Thank you for taking the time to read, and sorry if I wasn’t very coherent or clear, I wrote this in one go… Alright, see you people later!

Soar Vandergeid out!


tldr; An author always has the final word, no matter what, even if he doesn’t have an answer.

The rider in the storm

Image source unknown


Night. The darkest hour. When all hope disappears. Thunder is rumbling, the wind is howling madly. The grass on the hills is bending under the power of the storm. Rain is falling hard on the ground, plundering the earth. A dark shadow is moving. A horse is running, a rider on its back. Running as fast as it can, as if its life depended on it. Running as quick as the wind. He rides, never looking back, hoping they are okay. Praying to reach them in time. The world seems against him; as if the gods were mad at him. As if they had unleashed Hell on Earth. Droplets of water, as cold and hard as ice hits him in the face, rendering him unable to see more than a few meters in front of him.

Lightning strikes, once, twice, giving shape to the shadow of a ghost. A ghost from the past that is catching up on him. He knows he should run away but he can’t. He has to cope with that growing unease growing inside him. They need him! He has to get there at all cost! He has to make it, his steed knows it also. The mighty stallion gains speed, outrunning the heavy gusts of wind. Its mane buzzing frantically as it gains more speed, sparks forming around its legs. Getting bigger and more frequent with each new step. Suddenly it lights up in a thunderous boom, thousands of tiny lighting bolts coming out of its mane and its tail, covering its entire body. It gains even more speed, running so fast it outruns even the heavenly flashes. Cutting through the mad rain, leaving a burnt trail behind it. He runs an impossible race. A race for his friends. A race against time, against himself. A race against death…


Here is a text I wrote some time ago, a scene from one of my stories that I have had in mind for some time.

Over the edge

Here you finally are, on the edge. Not of glory -oh no, silly- you’re on the edge of the world, frightening isn’t it? From here you can contemplate the vast unknown, the dark emptiness, the infinite abyss. From here on it’s just nothing, on and on, for thousands upon thousands of leagues. Out there is the cold reality, the source of the fear that has been crippling your kind since the beginning of time, out there is the void. No light, no sound, no life. Nothing. From this point on to eternity. Few have reached this place -oh many tried but so many didn’t make it this far- and fewer yet have tried to continue further, to go… beyond. But -hear me well when I say this- none has ever come back. Once you jump over the edge there is no coming back. There is not going forward either. Heck! There is not even a forward to go to. Are you scared? Of course you are. But, my dear adventurer, my sweet sweet brave one, the question is: are you willing to take the leap? This is not a leap of faith, if anything it is a leap of foolishness -of complete and utter stupidity if you ask me-. This is a simple choice. No arguments, no pondering, no reward for your bravery, no prize for your achievement, just a simple act of will. A simple decision: whether to take the plunge or not. It is simple but of course it is not easy, is it, my friend?

Hahaha. I can feel your fear, your indecision. I know. But will you be man enough to make a decision, will you be foolish -or brave, whatever you prefer- enough to choose? Or will you just cower away like so many other before you? Don’t kid yourself, if you do this you will never come back. But if you don’t do it how will you ever know? Aha! There it is, the greatest weakness of your kind: curiosity. I can see its fire burning in your soul, the flames may waver at time but it is there, always burning, waiting to devour more and more. Whatever you choose, whatever you do, is entirely up to you. I will not stop you either way. But will you be able to live with the consequences of your decision? In any case, never will you come back here again. Oh…! Interesting. You have made your choice. So it’s gonna be like that huh? I’ll admit, I couldn’t be sure but I really hoped it would happen this way. The fear in your eyes, the crippling doubt eating at you, are always so much fun to watch, I can’t get enough of it! Well, not that it matters anymore, you’ve made your decision, now you will have to live with it, forever. But don’t worry, you’re not the first to make this choice and, if I may say, certainly not the last one. Leave your regrets behind you, no need to go crazy over this. Anyways, adieu my dear adventurer!, for we will never meet again. Know, however, that it has truly been a great pleasure meeting you and I thank you for this. … Oh come on now! You have chosen, no more hesitation, no more stalling, off you go now! The first step is always the hardest but don’t forget: your new journey awaits! Hahahahaha…

The demon

night sky

Credits to Elias Stern / LordDoomhammer for this amazing piece called Graceful Moonlight.

It the olden days there was another,

A sphere of light high up in the sky,

That lit up the world just like a mother

During the dark nights, high up it would fly.

 *

The night was dark but the sky was clear. One could see the stars and the soft light of the moon. The night was dark and the air was cold. He could see the creature’s breath shimmer slightly before disappearing mysteriously. He should’ve been cold but the fight had lit a fire in his heart, each breath spread the warmth all over his body. He could feel his blood pumping in his arms, in his head and in chest. He was alive. No, he was still alive. How could he still be alive? How could he have survived so long against such a monster? He saw its red eyes shine in the dark, looking intently at him as if they were piercing his mind, as if it could see directly into his soul. His breath was heavy as he tried to recover from the exhaustion. His muscles were burning, his mind was getting fuzzy by moments and, even if he was still standing, he knew it wouldn’t be long before he crumbled under the immensely powerful attacks of the beast in front of him.

The only thing that kept him alive and standing was that he couldn’t fail. It wasn’t a question of honor or pride, no, he simply couldn’t fail. He had to protect them. He had to protect everyone. If he died here it didn’t matter as long as he took the creature with him, but he couldn’t be defeated, he couldn’t lose. For if he was… He shivered as images of the burning village flashed in his mind, his wife and child, his friends and his neighbors, so many innocent slain by one single being. No! He definitely couldn’t let it happen. He was the only one that could stop it, the only one that had a chance. He couldn’t lose but he didn’t see how he could win either. They had been at it for so long and he hadn’t managed to injure it even once yet. How do I defeat that thing? How? The question echoed endlessly through his mind as he parried and counter attacked over and over again. How do I kill it?

He had felt its aura long before it had reached the village, the deathly smell that characterized its kind. He had known it was coming long before he had seen its bloody eyes glow menacingly at him. He hadn’t been able to believe it at first; they hadn’t been seen for centuries. Why had it appeared now? And why here? How could it be possible? He had no answer to the many questions that had flooded his mind, answers were not important though, action was. He had known what he had to do almost immediately: he had to go face it. He had to kill it before it killed them. Night had already begun to fall when he had jumped on his horse and had left them, not even looking back once as he disappeared in the horizon. He had ridden for hours before reaching the place where it had appeared and a few more before he had encountered it. The night was dark but the light of the moon offered just enough vision to survive its attacks, at least until now.

It was tall, much taller than him, with long limbs and skin darker than night, red eyes and claws so long and so sharp they could tear a man apart without difficulty. The only reason he had managed to survive until was because he had been a royal knight in another life, he had become the protector of the village after years of faithful services and the armor he had donned all these years was reinforced with magic. His lion shield had been enchanted to resist to the strongest blows as well as the passing of time and his sword was a cursed blade, it was the only way to injure a magical creature. And boy, what a creature he had in front of him. Easily over two meters tall with sharp with teeth and deadly magical power, it was easily a mediare daemonis, a middle class demon. A very powerful creature that was said to come from the burning fires of hell. One must have been crazy or foolish to go up against such a monster but he hadn’t lost his mind, he had no other choice if he wanted to keep them safe.

Claws clashed against shield and sword against scale, over and over, relentlessly. Each time he could see the hellish fire burning in its eyes and felt as if the demonic glare was tearing his mind and soul to shreds. He parried and counterattacked, throwing mad sword thrusts at the dark limbs but never succeeding in wounding them. The demon would smile from time to time, as if it enjoyed toying with him, displaying blood-red teeth as sharp as knives. Suddenly he jumped and rolled to the side to evade another blow, the large arm passed right by him and hit the ground with so much strength it crumbled the rocks beneath it. He used this single instant to get back to his feet and thrust his sword at the creature’s exposed chest but the demon was faster and caught the sword between its claws, turning towards him with a wicked smile.

“Foolish human… You cannot defeat me, not even with your sacred weapons…” Its voice was deep and it seemed to echo in darkness.

No, he thought, not in darkness. It was as if its voice was the darkness and as if it took form as it left its mouth. I’m never going to be able to kill that thing… he thought, his mind slowly going numb. He felt as if his body had suddenly been tossed into water, his movements were sluggish, his breathing was ragged and he had difficulty moving his chest to take in a new wave of oxygen. The world had suddenly solidified around him and he could literally feel the weight of it on his shoulders, forcing him to the ground, dragging him to the depths of the underworld. He fell to his knee, only managing to stop himself from falling to the ground by burying the tip of his sword in the dry dirt under his feet. Images flashed before his eyes, the village in ruins, every house burning up in flames as dark as the night, his family lying on the ground, in each other’s arms, dead. No… No! This can’t be happening, no! His head was about to explode, he couldn’t go on anymore, it had to stop.

“Do you see now, it will only end in death and suffering… And that will all be my doing. You cannot stop me, it is already too late!” The demon spoke again, boring its eyes into his, breaking every wall and piercing every barrier to touch his soul.

As soon as it happened he felt a searing pain, this time his head had exploded, it couldn’t be otherwise. He had died and gone to hell where the demon was tormenting him. Hahaha. You are a mine and so are all the others, I will crush you like the insects you are… This time the voice was in his head, it echoed endlessly, sending flashes of unbearable pain and images of his family. His wife, bloody and crying over their son’s body, all torn up and burnt. A sword pierced her heart and a single cry echoed in the night before she fell to the ground next to the young boy. Now die! The voice added and he felt a searing pain in his mind as the demon’s consciousness retreated from it.

He felt it was an eternity before he finally opened his eyes again, he was still on his knees, his body completely paralyzed by intense pain. The demon was towering over him, its dark form expanding in two large wings on each side and its eyes glowing a deep dark shade of red. The creature was holding a large silver blade in its hand, its edge seemed like it was made of a different material than the center and glowed with an eerie purple light. The sword was much longer than what he had ever seen and the edges seemed to be made like teeth of a saw, as if it had been forged to tear apart instead of cutting. The creature lifted it in the air and displayed a wicked smile.

“Now die.” Its voice sounded mocking and amused as it brought down its large and dark arm.

As the deadly weapon was about to hit him an image flashed in his mind, the last look of his wife as he had left and the fear in his son’s eyes. He felt a sudden warmth in his chest as his blood started to boil again, anger coursed through his veins. He couldn’t let it win, it was simply not a possibility!

“No.” He managed to reply, planting his foot on the ground and raising his shield once more to protect himself.

He parried the blow and quickly took a step back, readying his sword once more. He would not fall now, he would not let his loved ones get slaughtered by this monster. He saw surprise flash in the demon’s eyes as he got back up and could have sworn he had seen a hint of fear.

“Impressive…” The demon’s voice was still as calm and deadly as before, there was no hint that he was worried by his opponent just getting back up. “You have a noteworthy resolve for a human.” The creature added before thrusting his sword forward.

He parried with difficulty, feeling his arm go numb as the sword hit his shield. The lion head resounded for a few seconds as the shield shook powerfully under the assault. He could only try to parry as best as he could as the creature attacked relentlessly, over and over again with a blood lust and rage he had never felt before. Its aura was overwhelming and had he not known that they would all die if he didn’t kill it he would have succumbed to it and been utterly destroyed. Dust flew around them as the danced furiously under the moonlight. One might almost have viewed this scene as poetic if they hadn’t known it was a fight.

He tried to fought back, parrying and counterattacking as fiercely as he could, but he was still getting overwhelmed and he knew it was only a matter of time before he would be defeated. Even with the sacred weapons that had been given to him by the royal smith himself he couldn’t match the creature’s natural raw power and strength. It was from another realm and very few men had fought one and lived to tell the tale, all of which were far stronger than he had ever been. Still he hung on, still he fought back. He couldn’t let them be killed, he was the only one who could protect them.

Another unbearably strong hit on his shield, then a clash of swords that sent him a few feet backwards, his arms were starting to give out. His armor was dented and bent everywhere, his shield was close to breaking, he could feel it, and his sword never got close enough to lend a hit. Blow after blow he was pushed back and toyed with, as if the demon was taking pleasure n chipping away his spirit and soul, piece by piece. Another block with his shield, it effectively cutting of the trajectory of the ethereal sword but this time his legs gave out and he was sent flying backwards, landing painfully on his back.

As he tried to get back up he felt something wet on his side. A large gash was open in his top and blood was flowing from the wound, tainting his armor with a deep red color. The demon had finally managed to wound him seriously. He felt the cold spread in his left side, the arm with which he was holding his shield was starting to grow weak. Damn it! He thought, it can’t end like this. I can’t die now! Ugh! A wave of pain coursed through his body and he winced as he tried to get back up. The demon was looking at him, slowly walking to him, as if it enjoyed this moment.

“Sadly you are still nothing but a human…” It said as it stopped before him, preparing to strike.

Finally, with great effort and a wave of pain he managed to raise his shield to try to protect himself. The demon was about to strike when suddenly the light of the moon changed, it went from the usual bluish shade to a deep red one, the reflection of the light on his shield seemed to take the creature aback. Its eyes widened with surprise and fear and it took a step back. He used this moment of distraction to get back up and, stumbling to keep his balance as his wound hurt, he got back in a fighting stance, readying his sword to strike once more. The demon got its balance back, suddenly looking at the moon and letting out a furious roar.

“How?! How could you…!” It turned back towards him, the fire in its eyes burning with much more intensity as it let out its rage.

The demon raised its sword once more and launched a furious series of attacks. However he was ready for this and he managed to block the first two before the creature’s unmatchable strength blew his shield away. He was wounded once more on his right arm this time and almost dropped his sword as his hellish opponent caught him by the throat and lifted him up from the ground. Then, before he could even have a moment to notice he couldn’t breathe, the creature readied its sword again and struck. He felt a deathly cold pierce his chest as the silver and violet blade plunged in him before a hot searing pain took over.

This time he couldn’t suppress the cry of pain as he felt his mind explode in a myriad of pieces. His vision went blank for a second before he saw the fire once again. Its eyes that had been burning with an intense and hellish fire up until now were dark, the fire had turned black and seemed to suck out any light around as if it was consuming it.

“You are just a puny human, you are not even worthy of my efforts…” The demon said as he looked directly into his eyes.

It was all over. He had lost. He was going to die here and so were all the other, massacred by a ruthless creature that took pleasure in inflicting pain in others… Damn it… How could I let this happen…? He thought with dejection as he felt his consciousness slip away. He felt the weight of his sword in his hand and as he felt like his soul was slowly getting sucked in by the darkness in the creature’s eyes another image flashed in his head and realization dawned on him. This was his chance! He just needed to get close enough to land a blow, this was it… He felt the pommel of his blade start to slip away and swore inwardly. Come on! You can do this! He grunted, trying to make his hand move.

Everything was happening in slow motion now, he felt his fingers move, gripping the blade as he caught it before it fell. He then looked into the demon’s eyes and tried his best to display his determination. He readied his arm, tensing at the pain he felt and he was about to feel. The creature’s eyes narrowed a split second before he struck. Its mouth opened and slowly his opponent looked down at its chest, following his arm, the pommel of his sword and finally the blade which had sunk all the way in its chest. After what seemed an eternity it looked back up and stumbled on its feet.

“H- How…?” Asked the demon, its voice was soft, almost a whisper as incomprehension took the place of surprise.

He saw the creature look up at the sky and the reddish colored moon, its eyes now back to their normal hellish fire and filled of fear. He felt all the anger and the determination he had swell up inside him and forced himself to smile. His breathing was ragged but he still managed to get the words out, the first one since they had started the duel.

“Humans… are not weak…” He said and the creature looked back at him.

“No… no…” The demon’s voice was but a whisper now. “No, no, no… NO!!!” Its voice became louder each time it repeated the word, not believing what was happening.

He felt the grip on his throat loosen and fell to the ground. His vision was getting blurry but he still saw the creature fall to its knees as it pulled his now blood-red blade out of its chest and threw it on the ground. A dark liquid was gushing out of the large wound, forming a pool around the creature’s knees. Come on, die you bastard! He thought, almost praying to all the gods he knew for it to die. The demon looked at the moon for a moment, its breathing getting heavier, before raising a raging fist and letting out a deafening roar. It seemed like an eternity before the sound faded away and he saw the monster slowly fall to the ground, face first.

Its body jerked a few times before becoming completely still. At what seemed to him to be the same time as it drew its last breath a flash of light momentarily blinded him. As his sight came back he noticed that the silver and violet sword had disappeared and that a pool of blood was forming around him too. Breathing was getting more and more difficult, he didn’t have the strength to move anymore but still a small smile formed onto his face as he realized he had killed it. Finally… He let out a painful sigh. Thank you, thank you… He didn’t know who he was thanking but only the gods could have allowed such a miracle to happen. He had defeated the demon… Now they were safe. You are safe… The world around him went dark as the thought crossed his mind. He felt his consciousness slip away as a comfortable cold slowly took over his body.

He was dying and he knew it, but he didn’t care, they were safe and that was all that mattered. They were safe. As the man that his village would later know as a hero lay there, unmoving, the moon’s light slowly went back to its usual bluish color. A small breeze blew over the two corpses, slowly blowing away the demon’s body as if it was sand. That night would later be known as the first night of the red moon, when a demon had been defeated by a brave human who had managed to protect everyone by sacrificing his own life. None knew what happened to him after that though, his body was never found, only his shield with the mighty lion head engraved on the front side, planted in the ground where the fight had taken place.