The King Out of Darkness was originally written for The Enigmatic Monster Project. Here it is again, in it’s original form. From time to time I write short stories involving the characters seen in this tale. In fact, you may encounter a few of them in The Wandering Stranger!
Long ago, when the world was still young, she had taken something from him. An eye for an eye. Time to die.
In the beginning I looked out upon the vast expanse of the void overhead; a calm, colourless sea looked back down upon me, a thousand shivering lights like eyes glittering in the dark. I stood in awe, transfixed by the sight. Slowly, very slowly, my awe turned to despair; a thought had come to me. A deadly thought. A maddening thought.
As I looked out among the stars I began to realize that they were not stars.
They shivered and they glittered, glinting and then gleaming, winking in an out, and moving constantly . . . The points of light, always grouped in pairs, were fixated upon me.
In the beginning, as the fog lifted from my mind, there was darkness. My mouth made to move, but refused to obey. There was a deep ringing in my ears, like static, like grinding metal, like squealing wood as it burned. My heart began to race. Not one part of my body would obey my silent command—I could not move at all; I was paralyzed.
Slowly, very slowly, my despair died.
There was nothing to feel anymore. My eyes were open wide, but I saw nothing.
There was only darkness.
So I wept.
There were no tears. There was nothing.
In the beginning, I stood outside myself—beside myself—from within looking out.
And there was darkness.
And there was silence.
I saw that it covered me, surrounded me, threatened to choke me, to devour me. There was nothing for me to feel, no way for me to feel; and yet I knew that I was cold with fear. As I watched myself I began to see my surroundings more clearly. Below me was the colourless earth, a halo of dead leaves around my head.
Like a halo.
A pair of pin-prick lights slowly moved through the darkness. I watched them warily, wondering where I had seen them before. There was no doubt I had seen them before, no doubt that I knew them. I shifted my gaze back to the ground; my body lay still, rigid, my hands placed upon my breasts as if in peace.
As if in death.
Once there was nothing to feel.
Now there was the whole world to feel. A rage flared up within me. I could see their hands and feet within the shadows.
Clever, I thought.
The distant fogs of memory lifted, then cleared for a final time. There was the void overhead, dark and menacing this time; its silence was not lost upon me. It weighed down upon me with a hideous strength.
One by one, bit by bit, I began to see those stars. They were not stars . . . Stars were warm and bright, while these lights were cold and hard—they shone with a steely glint. If I concentrated hard enough on any pair I would begin to see a face. My focus wavered for a split second; I felt my eyes roll into the back of my head. When I regained control I picked out his eyes.
His face became very clear to me, a young face, a face that would never show the passage of time. However, while I recalled a softer face, a harder one looked down upon me. Whatever it was that had turned him so cruel, I was innocent of it. Whatever it was that had made him hate me so, I had no part in it.
I had known him once, when the world was a bit younger.
Now he was killing me.
One by one, bit by bit, I began to see stars.
Stars . . . I thought, confused. Something was wrong, but I couldn’t remember what. A stranger from the past . . . Things crawling in the shadows . . . Stars that were not stars . . .
Was that it? Were those the things I had forgotten?
Nothing comes from something, something comes from nothing, and nothing comes from nothing, a voice said.
I could not move, but that did not stop my skin from prickling. What a horrible thing to say, I thought. There was something inherently wrong with the way it was said, as if to suggest some secret knowledge that I didn’t quite understand.
I wasn’t quite sure if I should.
He lingered as they all brushed past him—brother and sister alike—looking down upon the woman. She had been so young . . . Young when he had first seen her, and still young as she died. Now she would never taste the bitterness of old age. He knelt beside the body; with a long finger he touched a cheek. It was warm to the touch. He brought his face—an eerie, mocking face, humanoid yet bestial—close to hers—a very human face, beautiful and familiar. Where he was wild she had been chaste, virtuous, moral, fair . . . What did she have to show for it now? With a careful hand he pried open her eyes.
They were empty now, belying little of what had been underneath the surface. As they tortured her, plagued her, she had not cried out. Only once had she wept, and not for herself.
And what did she have to show for it?
Da’Kiri slid his talons behind the soft, gelatinous orbs.
As he set about his gruesome task the world moved on from that event. She was one person among many; she would not be missed. The thought felt hollow . . .
Her blue-green eyes would make a wonderful gift.