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Neopia's Fill in the Blank News Source | 13th day of Relaxing, Yr 26
The Neopian Times Week 62 > Short Stories > Darken Fate: Becoming

Darken Fate: Becoming

by shidi

Image by thephoenixofeio

Haunted Woods, Month of Collecting, Year 3
     Mist hung heavy like a gray mantle cloak draping the wood in ominous shrouds. The moon was full, and high in the sky, her face bone pale and lending only slight illumination to the highest layers of the fog. Not a single shred of light penetrated the veil, leaving the figure as he preferred, in darkness. All evening, I had been stalking him, three steps behind, here a pause as he listened sharply for some sound - perhaps from my careless foot, perhaps imagined.

     His brown ears swiveled sharply, his keen and feral senses seeking some hint of presence, some essence of mortality that he lacked and would instantly attune to. I held my breath tight in my chest, wrapping the folds of my cloak closer around myself as if it could shield me from his scrutiny. I clutched my Wand of the Light Faerie firmly within my left paw, just below the folds of my cloak, ready to display when I had need of the protective powers it would grant me.

     Darkness was no match for me, or so I thought, fully confident in my knowledge of the preternatural. I had read the ancient tomes, so old and dusty that Neopia had forgotten their names, found only in the most learned of sages' possession. I had studied with the Wizard, far beyond the days of my youth and frivolous past, emerging from the tower as a young Grarrl ready for adventure. Within a year, I had a reputation to uphold - that of Gaelan Legarro, Preternaturalist - Sage of the Supernatural.

     With that reputation in mind, and a hefty amount of NP in my purse from a mysterious benefactor, I had set out for the Haunted Woods in search of the creature that called himself Count von Roo. Legends dating from as far back as 200 BN told of his reign of terror over Neopia. Even evil has limitations, however, and the Count had grown tired of his travels. Settling into an abandoned castle on an island known now as Roo, he embraced the solace of the earth, letting the cold ground claim him in a deep slumber for many years.

     He awakened.

     Without opposition, his reign of terror would begin anew. Naturally, the burden of his disposal had fallen squarely upon my broad shoulders. For hours now, I had trailed my charge - my trained instincts waiting only to seize the perfect moment, the apex of our little game of chase, in which I would reveal my light and penetrate this darken night to strike true at the heart of my sworn foe. In theory, this was a wonderful plan. The practice of said plan left much to be desired, as the crisp, leafy underbrush was very difficult for a pet of my stature to navigate silently. The vampire had no such quarrel with the elements; he glided through the foliage soundlessly, and with barest trace of his passing.

     I should have, in retrospect, been more cautious and aware. The malevolence that radiated from this being in tangible waves was a warning, one which I did not heed. Von Roo paused again, an instant, perhaps, before I hastily did the same, stilling even the rustle of my cloak with a quick right paw. Not fast enough. This time, he had heard, and turned a swift circle, movement so fast that even my keen eyes caught it as little more than a blur of brown against the gray backdrop of the elements.

     "Good evening," von Roo said, almost congenially, though an undercurrent of malice lay just beneath the smoothness of his words. He drew out each syllable languidly, accustomed to having time and fortune on his side. The Count's eyes glowed red, two burning embers in the darkness that seemed to sear through my skin, sapping at my very soul.

Image by thephoenixofeio

     I gasped then, and drew forth the wand, illuminating the night in a blinding flash of purity. Trying to keep the tremor from my voice, I raised the glowing wand and pointed it directly at the vampire's chest. "Faeries guide that this light strike true - destroy the foul creature that is von Roo!" A powerful beam shot forth from my wand, purity and faerie blessing powerful enough to shatter the most vile of darkness. The beam struck true, right into the trunk of the tree behind where von Roo had been standing a moment beforehand. Stunned, I stared in disbelief at the empty space. This was to be my undoing, my fatal flaw, my moment of inaction that I would replay over and over again in my head, wondering how things might have been different if I had performed one of a thousand scenarios hindsight granted me.

     "Muhahahahaha!" The sound of von Roo's laughter was all around me, enveloping me in a calliope of dissonance from which there was no escape. I sunk to my knees, dropping the wand, shrieking in pain and horror at the terrible, maddening sound. A steely paw clamped down upon my shoulder, and another drew back my neck firmly. I cried out in terrible agony as he sunk into me, fangs piercing with a white-hot pain, like twin Cobrall daggers tearing into my flesh. I could feel my vitality slipping away as he drained, a red haze clouding my vision as I slumped forward, too limp to give much of a struggle. Warmth spread through my body, a delicious numbness that blurred the edges of my consciousness to a vague mist.

     Floating above myself, a part of the clouds and the night far more than the earthbound creature that was suffering such fate, I impassively viewed his savagery, a dark art akin to beauty. The preternatural grace with which he fed would have made a wonderful entry in my journal of observations. Too bad, it seemed , that I would not live to record it. Von Roo finished his meal, snaking out his tongue to catch the last flecks of blood that had escaped onto his snout. He bent over my body, furling his cape in a dramatic flourish as he appraised the damage done. For a long moment that seemed hours, he stayed bent over me, as my mind floated above-then with a swiftness that rivaled his earlier speed, he was gone, and I was alone and inside myself again, becoming slowly aware. Had I died?

     Taste was the first sense to recover, a bitter taste, acrid and sanguine on the tip of my tongue and lurking coppery around the corners of my mouth. Next came sight, with colours flooding in to the night, bright and beautiful, as if the darkness had never been. Never had I seen such beauty of shade, such intensity. If I had been an artist, I would have wept for joy. Sensation came next, the feeling of the ground hard and cold against my skin, the terrible wracking pain as I retched onto said ground, disgorging the contents of my last meal. All of this, however, was as silent as a ghost - for sound was the last to return, waiting, mercifully, throughout my throes of agony, until I lay spent on the grass, staring up at the stars which I could miraculously perceive through the veil of cloud. Sound roared back into being then, terrifying in its intensity, amplified and with things audible that I had never heard before - the chirp of a cricket, the breath of an owl - both as close to me as if they were right against my ear. Yet, I realised with fear and loathing, I could no longer hear the rhythm of my heart, or the shallow rasp of my breathing. In fact, both had ceased entirely. I glanced down at my skin in the moonlight, and shivered to find it pallid with a sickly green hue. A terrible thirst was building within me, a thirst that could only be slaked by the vitality I now lacked. Stumbling to my feet, I heard a sickening crack. There, beneath my right paw, in splintered pieces, was the Wand of the Light Faerie, still glowing faintly. Faeries would not bless me now... I walked away from the light, and did not look back.

Gaelan's Castle (Office), Month of Collecting, Year 4 (Present Day)
     "I tell you these things, my dear one, so that you will understand. What I was, and what I have become. It is imperative that you speak of this to no one-I would not have the citizens of Neopia running in terror from my very presence. For one full year, I have walked the face of our known world, lost in the terrible depths of dark deeds and darker dreams. But now, a shard of mortality within me has awakened - a small glimmer of light left within, that I hold onto like my only hope, for it may well be. I do not know how long this moment of clarity will last-do not tremble, we have known each other far too long for it to come to that. I would do you no harm now, no more than ever I have been capable of causing you the slightest displeasure. You must be my eyes and ears, during the daytime, when I slumber in the forgiving earth, who holds no judgement, even for one such as myself. All are equal in the grave, my child.

     Seek for me, as best you know how, souls in need of my particular brand of investigation. I shall be redeemed, if not through my honour, then by my intent. And through it all, through all the terrible wonders, and the dark majesty of my curse... it shall be thoughts of you that keep me sane. Knowing that there is still beauty kissed by daylight... that the sun will rise, and warm your face, upturned... will keep me focused on my mission, and grant me benediction, that I might feel worthy of finding a cure. For now, however, you must leave this place... for the hour grows late, and the hunger, strong. Have I ever told you how lovely and slender the line of your neck is, how the beat of you pulse is like music.... Go! Now!"

     As She fled from me, slamming the door in her haste, I sunk my head heavily onto the desk, fighting the urge to pursue. My hands balled into fists as I recalled her face, contorted in a hapless mixture of fear and pity... I could not, for the former life of me, decide which of the two was worse....

The End

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