It's finally here guys. As some of you will know, I've been holed up for the past month working on this as part of the TEN 1st anniversary which is today. Before I launch off into what all I've got for you guys today, let me start by saying that this is a two-shot that fits inside the Blazing Dreams: The Eternal Night storyline. You could call it a special (or a 'movie', in the vein of the last Blazing Dreams special). While it takes place directly after the latest volume of TEN, it's quite different from usual. I won't say anything else, but you'll figure out what I mean in a few minutes.
To readers who might not be familiar with Blazing Dreams, don't let that get in your way. Of course it would help quite a bit, but believe me when I say even my long-time readers won't have a huge advantage. I would greatly appreciate it if you read, even if you don't want to comment.
Of course, as I've literally talked about non-stop the past few weeks, this is not the only thing that is set for release on this anniversary. To prevent this from getting too long (and boring), feel free to skip the spoiler and skip straight to the fic if you like.
Spoiler:- Anniversary Surprises:
A few more notes and we'll be ready to go. This is going to be a two-shot, with the second part being posted in two weeks, give or take. I would like to warn everyone that there is some disturbing imagery in this. Nothing all that graphic, but I just want to give fair warning.
That's (finally) it. Please, enjoy everyone.
|the eternal night|
this fiction is rated pg-13
for profanity, violence and disturbing imagery
reader discretion is advised
Cascading sheets of rain poured down, illuminated by the occasional arc of thunder. The harsh, rocky terrain was quickly inundated by the downpour, turning each footfall into a tiring slog through the standing water and mud.
Yet another flash of lightning ignited the night sky, casting a brilliant glow across his path. Several hundred feet more of the terrain was suddenly visible before the rain doused the light. A hand reached out from beneath the worn gray traveling cloak, wiping his lined face wearily.
The howling call of the wind filled his ears, crying out in some long forgotten song. A bolt of thunder cast light upon his surroundings once more, bringing him pause.
He turned from his path, taking a few short steps to his side. The sky seemed to glow a dull white, almost visibly crackling with electricity. The small amount of light was all that was needed to expose the silhouettes of the many tall peaks that surrounded him. His gaze was not upward, however.
Stretched out in front of him was a massive black pool, seemingly large enough to swallow the largest mountain. It reached out into infinity in the downpour, melting with the darkness on all sides. The divide between the sky and earth was lost, and suddenly it seemed entirely possible that these were the gaping jaws of Hell itself, reaching out to reclaim it's rightful property. What had been cheated from it. What it needed back.
With a momentary flash of light, it was easily apparent that it was nothing more than a small mountain lake, it's surface scarred and pitted by the fury of the rain.
He blinked, turning away.
It was nothing.
Pulling his hood lower, the traveler continued on his path.
Almond eyes bore holes in the familiar grain of the wood above, a dead stare willing it to ignite and burn away into nothing. She sighed, rolling over on her bunk.
Something was brewing. The level of activity was astonishing, with soldiers rushing around at all hours of the night and day. Arms were being made and distributed at an incredible pace, something she had never seen in her lifetime.
It made no sense. Admittedly, there had always been weapons and soldiers ready to use them, but it had always been in the case that the Council had located them at long last. The Governor was always spewing mindless vitriol about how, one day, the Horde would rise up and retake Johto. Never was there any actual plan as to how a meager force of a few hundred soldiers could take down the entire governing body of the Johto.
Yet...that seemed to be exactly what was being planned. How it could work was beyond her.
She rolled onto her back, glaring up at the upper bunk once more. Perhaps it had something to do with the new forces that seemed to be springing up everywhere? The 'Elite', as they were so fondly called by the Governor.
To be honest, they scared her, although she would never admit it. Rarely were they seen outside the castle. On the rare occasion they were seen, they were covered in bulky armor. Their faces were always completely covered in taut gray masks, giving them the appearance of featureless zombies.
The part that scared her, however, was not the way they looked. It was how they became Elite in the first place. Most of the teenage boys that were in training left off in the middle of the night, and that was it. If they became Elites, which she could only presume they did, they cast aside their old lives, staying holed up in the castle most of the time.
She winced, sitting up carefully in the cramped bunk. The teenage girl, no more than fourteen, ran a hand through her short brown hair. “Might as well go get training...”
The teenager stood up, stretching. The cramped girls' room was currently empty but for the rows of empty bunks, which was the way she liked it. Peace was all she was looking for.
She started to weave her way through toward the door when she caught a glimpse of herself in the sole mirror in the room. She was somewhat taller than most, standing at eye level with most of the boys. Her figure was decidedly similar to the boys as well, which didn't bother her. Much.
Shrugging, she made her way outside. It was a particularly gloomy day, with the sun fully obscured by the clouds. Tightly packed wooden buildings were all around, housing almost the entire normal population. Ordinary soldiers, she knew, took up residence on the other side of the small village.
The teenager walked toward a small way between two of the barracks, silently cursing why they couldn't have put at least a bit more space between them, when she heard a some loud yells from ahead.
Curious, she sped up, careful not to brush up against the bare wood of the buildings on either side of her. A short moment later she emerged.
Her eyes quickly roved over the scene. There was a small dirt path between the groups of tightly packed buildings, leading down a hill and out of sight on one side and leading up toward a sheer rock face on the other. Close to twenty people were hovering around...well, something. She couldn't see through the group of people.
She took a few steps forward before a harsh yell stopped her in her tracks. “Everyone, away! Back up NOW!”
Three men were running down from the top of the path, waving their arms at the crowd. The middle man was flanked by two heavily armored guards, clad in deformed facemasks.
The third man was almost as intimidating as his guards. He stood imposingly tall, dressed in a long gray cloak. His face was contorted in anger, as it was usually. The Governor did not take kindly to disobedience, imagined or real.
The crowd wasted no time in backing off, clearing the way for the newcomers. As they moved aside, the teenage girl could finally see what had everyone so interested. A hunched-over figure was lying on the ground, smoking ever so slightly. She frowned; it almost looked like a burnt body...
“Back off!” roared the Governor, slowing to a stop in front of the gruesome scene. He paused, recoiling slightly. Dark blood was pooling up on the ground surrounding the figure, who looked clearly dead.
One of the Elite kneeled down in front of the figure. “It's Lord Hunter.”
The low, gravelly voice sent chills down her spine. Shaking her head, she frowned at the figure. How did a disfigured body end up in the middle of the village...?
The Governor jumped, staring down at the figure. “Hunter? You crazy bastard! What the hell happened?”
To the teenager's amazement, the figure slowly sat up. Someone from the crowd gave a frightened scream, something she couldn't blame them for at all.
The man's face (at least she assumed it was a man) was burnt nearly beyond recognition. What was left was a charred, mangled shell of what it had surely once been. What was worse, it looked as if he had been brutally tortured before hand. He had no eyes, ears or nose she noticed, her stomach turning.
“I...need to see the King at once.” the man said, coughing up black bile onto the ground.
“I...sure, of course...” muttered the clearly stunned Governor, his eyes on the bile. “What the hell happened to you?”
“I'll explain later, but right now I have to talk to the King.”
The Governor shook his head, taking a deep breath. “You two, assist the Lord back to the castle. All of you,” he turned to the silent, shocked crowd. “Go back to whatever the hell you were doing. Go!”
Most of the people turned away, shocked looks on their faces. She couldn't blame them; she probably looked the same. Knowing not to refuse an order from the Governor, she turned to leave. Before she began to walk off, however, her gaze fell back on the figure.
She jumped. For a second, he was looking directly at her, the dark voids where his eyes had once been staring straight into her eyes.
Then the pair of Elite reached down to help him to his feet and the moment was over. Her heart racing, she turned and wasted no time getting out of there.
The girl looked up, her eyes glazed over. “Mmm? Nothing, nothing...”
The teenage boy sighed, sitting back against the a tall tree. He ran his hand through his short black hair, yawning. The pair were sitting atop a tall ledge, staring down at the village below them. Out above stretched an infinite expanse of twinkling stars, pinpricks of light in the great night sky. Farther out, beyond the comparatively narrow stretch of land the village was built on, the high peaks of mountains reached out as far as the eye could see. Their bases were shrouded in low lying mist, obscuring the ground. It seemed as though they were on top of the world, which wasn't far off.
“What is it? I heard a body was found earlier...did you see it?”
Kyrie shrugged, lying back in the teenager's arms. “Yeah, I did. It wasn't a body though...it was very much alive.”
The boy frowned. “Alive? What do you mean?”
She sighed. “It was alive, but...I don't know. He had been disfigured, burnt and everything. That was bad enough, but as I was leaving...he looked at me. I can't explain it, but I felt like he knew me or something...”
He blinked. “I don't know what to say.”
“You don't have to,” said the girl. “Don't worry, I'm not afraid or anything. I can take care of myself. It's just...why do I feel like I know him?”
“Maybe you do?” offered the teenager. “Maybe he got on the bad side of a rogue soldier or something? Or...he pissed off the Governor? He could have been someone you've seen before.”
“Maybe,” said Kyrie, cringing at the thought of someone she knew ending up with such a horrible fate. “You know what he reminds me of? An Elite. Those bastards wear masks, but they just look like that guy underneath, I know it. Shut up, Magnus.” she added as the boy snickered.
“Oh come off of it,” he chuckled. “The Elite aren't evil, they're just...elite.”
The girl sighed. “Just like you to believe whatever bullshit the Governor tells us. Honestly, do you think I'm going to be around to set you straight always?”
Magnus smiled. “That's the plan, isn't it?”
Kyrie pushed herself deeper into the teenager's arms. “Yeah it is.” she whispered.
“I'm tellin' you guys! It was those Council guys, they caught one of us and tortured him!”
“Shut the hell up, that's not how it happened at all. The guy just appeared in the middle of the street, didn't he? If that's the case, I would be worrying how they could do that.”
“Eh, I don't so much care how it happened. Who was he anyway? Hey, Kyrie! You been awful quiet, you were there weren't you?”
The girl looked up. She was propped up in one of the bunks, halfheartedly listening to the chatter around her. At least twelve boys, all in their mid-teens, were sitting or standing around her. She had decided to come back with Magnus to his barracks, although technically it was against the rules. No one really cared, though. What teenagers did at night certainly didn't concern anyone. “Yeah, I was there. In fact, I think that guy was an Elite.”
“Oh come off it!” exclaimed Magnus, who was sitting in a bunk opposite her. “The Elites are cool, they're just better than the run-of-the mill soldiers.”
“I dunno, though,” offered one particularly large boy who sat on the floor in front of Kyrie. “Them guys...they ain't right.”
Several of the boys spoke up then, all coming up with wildly varying ideas about the Elites. The girl tuned them all out, annoyed that no one would listen to her.
She quietly reached toward her loose belt, fingering her straight blade knife. Normally she didn't keep it on her, but...it made her feel a bit safer, especially now.
“I wonder,” she spoke up after a moment. “What the Governor is going to do with him? They almost seemed like they knew each other...too bad I couldn't hear the entire conversation...”
With a loud bang, the only door to the barracks was smashed down. Nearly everyone jumped as a pair of armor clad Elite walked in.
“Shit!” exclaimed Magnus, trying to leap to his feet. “What was that?”
“Mind your tongue.” growled a deep voice from outside. Kyrie's eyes snapped to the doorway. That voice...
The ominous sound of footsteps echoed inside the door as a cloaked figure entered. His head was covered by a hood, but beneath it she noticed his face had been bandaged entirely over. A black gloved hand reached down to his a long sheath hanging from his belt, pulling out a long black blade.
“Our King has conveyed upon me his will, and I shall be honored to do as he wishes. All of you are about to be bestowed with His high honor.”
Silence filled the room.
“Come, all of you. You will all now have the great privilege of assisting the Horde.”
“What? No, I don't want to! What's going on?” exclaimed the large boy, his eyes wide with fear.
The figure laughed harshly. “You're coming. All of you. Let me warn you, I do not tolerate disobedience.”
Immediately the pair of Elite walked toward the tightly knit group, gesturing them toward the door with their own swords. Magnus stood up, thinking fast.
“What about Kyrie? She's just a girl, surely you don't want her as well?”
The figure turned to the teenage boy. “She will do as well. Move out.”
The moonlit horizon shifted ever so slightly. Slowly, steadily, a shadow began to mar the bare pass, creeping over the slight hill. It grew larger and larger, expanding with every passing second. A silent whisper of wind swept over the sleeping village.
The traveler looked down at his own shadow in the moonlight. He reached a hand down to pull his gray traveling cloak tighter to his body before looking up. There it sat, his destination.
He continued on his path, walking down the slight slope leading into the village. How much it had changed...had it been that long ago that it was the center of the rebellion to take down the Council? The place was more densely populated that it was before, granted, but all in it was a shell of it's former glory.
His gray eyes roved over the many tightly packed buildings. What had they been doing for all this time since the fall? Something constructive, he hoped. Knowing his host, that was a given.
It was peaceful up here, he had to admit. That was probably the reason this was chosen as the base in the first place, to be as remote as possible. You couldn't get any more remote than in the middle of the Blackthorn mountains inside the Barrier, that was for sure.
The narrow path between the buildings widened into an intersection with another path, leading toward the edge of the cliff on his right and the solid rock of the mountain on his left. The traveler continued straight ahead silently.
It wasn't the ideal place admittedly, but he felt that this would be a good place to take a break for a while. It had been decades, easily, since he had any peace from the web of lies and deception under the Overlord. He knew time was short for him to make a decision on what to do next, but he needed shelter to consider in peace.
He sighed, coming to a stop. The densely packed buildings all gave way to a wide, rough stone path. The bright moon illuminated his destination, a great castle built into the side of the large cliff. The entrance was only a short distance away, carved into the base of rock. A roughly chiseled skull glared at him, the eyes made of black stone. The man chuckled. What taste.
Two guards, dressed in full black armor with loosely held shields in their hands, flanked the skull's mouth. Both looked at the traveler in confusion as he approached them.
“Hey, who the hell are you?” asked one of the guards, surprised.
“Marvolo Dusek.” the traveler said curtly.
The guard looked to his counterpart, frowning. The other man shrugged, turning to the newcomer. “And...who the hell are you?”
The traveler chuckled. “I'm here to see the King.”
“Move your lazy asses! And what the hell is a girl doing here?”
An armor clad guard shrugged. “I don't know sir. Lord Hunter brought her in.”
A tall man dressed in embellished silver armor scowled. “Whatever, I guess.”
Kyrie looked away hastily as the tall man looked back at her. Her heart was pounding wildly, so much so she was surprised that no one could hear it. Her brown eyes glanced around nervously. She and the rest of the dozen or so boys were lined up against a thick stone wall in a narrow hall with the two Elites on each end and the two men standing in front of them. They were deep inside the castle fortress embedded in the cliff, but as soon as they entered guards pushed them along through corridor after corridor. A row of doors lined the other side of the hall, made of solid concrete. Not something she wanted to break out of.
She closed her eyes, trying to calm herself. What would they want with her? The man said himself, what was a girl doing here? For once she didn't mind standing out from all the guys.
The teenager looked to her right side to the grim face of Magnus. He quietly reached down and squeezed her hand. “It'll be okay.” he whispered.
Her heart skipped a beat. How could she be thinking of only herself? Whatever was going to happen, she knew it wouldn't be good. Were they going to be quietly slaughtered? That didn't make sense, they were all soldiers in-training. With the exception of her anyway, even though she could fight better than most of them anyway. Maybe...maybe they were going to become Elites? The thought sent a shiver down her spine.
She looked over at the Elite on the left of her. He stood completely still, staring at the line of boys. Her eyes found his masked face, completely void of visible features. Was that what was going to happen to them? Were they going to flatten their faces?
Her fist clinched around Magnus's hand. There was no way that she was going to disappear like everyone else, never to be seen or heard from again. To become a nameless, faceless solider...no. Not going to happen.
She stepped backward against the wall, masking the movement of her left hand toward her belt. She grabbed her knife easily, casting her eyes toward the left Elite. Yes...that would be the best way out. Looking up, she saw the two men now talking over a clipboard and a large stack of paper. There was no time to waste, they had to get out now.
As quietly as she could, she nudged Magnus. He frowned, looking up. “Now.” she mouthed, her eyes tilting slightly to the left guard.
Without waiting for him to say anything, she turned and made a dash toward the guard. In a single deft movement, she withdrew her long knife and bared down. In a flash, the Elite dropped to one knee and slid to catch her by the ankles. The teenager jumped, swinging down with her blade. It caught the arm of the man, who fell backward slightly.
With blinding speed, the Elite leapt back to his feet and jumped at the girl, grabbing her by the throat and slamming her powerfully against the wall. Stars flashed in front of her vision as fetid breath washed over her face.
Laughter echoed off the stone walls. “Now that's what I'm talking about! The girl has spunk, I like her!”
Kyrie blinked, looking back. Her vision was still slightly blurred, yet it was hard to miss the large man approaching her. The Elite backed off her throat and stepped back, but it was clear that he wouldn't take kindly to another escape attempt.
“You know what's really sad?” chuckled the man, brushing some non-existant dirt off of his embellished armor. “If some of you, any of you, would have jumped at the opportunity to escape and help her out, this young lady here as well as yourselves might have been out of here. But no...you all froze like cowards,”
Silence fell in the small stone hall. The man walked in front of the girl, grinning. “I'd have to say she's the only one out of you with balls, and that's saying something isn't it?” His eyes rolled up and down her figure, an eyebrow raised. He shrugged and turned to the petrified boys.
“Well, listen up. As much as I don't want to do this, especially for you bunch of cowards, it's going to be done. You all are about to have the great honor of become Elite soldiers for the Horde,” the man paused, making eye contact with each of the boys before continuing. “Lord Hunter will be with you all soon to...prepare you. May the Overlord watch over your souls.”
With that, the Elite who had stopped her grabbed the teenage girl, pushing her toward the last in the line of cells. She chanced a quick glance back to see Magnus, but to her surprise the spot where he had been standing beside her was empty. The man opened the door, pushing her roughly inside. She turned quickly, but with a resounding slam the door was closed in her face.
The traveler's gray eyes roved over the great stone hall. It had been roughly hewn out of the sheer rock, reaching a considerable distance in height. At least a dozen wooden benches were set out, lining the walls. A faded red rug ran the distance from the entrance to the back of the hall, where a small group of men stood.
In the center, sitting on an unembellished stone throne was a hunched over figure, dressed in dark robes. It remained perfectly still, a long hood over his face. Standing in front was a heavily bandaged man, wrapped almost entirely in beige wrappings. A loose fitting pair of gray pants hung loosely from his waist.
On either side of the man stood two soldiers, similar to the ones who had allowed him to enter. Dusek cleared his throat, taking a step forward.
“Ah...Dusek. Please come in...it has been so long. Guards, some privacy please...”
The traveler nodded slightly, watching as the soldiers immediately nodded and turned to leave the room. Once they were gone, he stepped forward, looking up at the King. The bandaged man turned to him, seemingly staring at him. Dusek noted his face was covered entirely, yet he seemed to know exactly where he was.
“Dusek, it is good to see you. Wait a moment and listen to this, you might find it interesting.” whispered the hunched over figure without so much as flinching. “Continue, Hunter.”
“Ah...yes,” growled Hunter. “The mission was largely a success. The Whitney substation was severely damaged, and all of the staff were killed. It will be down for a minimum of two weeks by my estimation, so the operation can go forward,”
The injured man paused, as if waiting for the King to speak. When he didn't, the man continued. “I also fought with Duncan McNeil, the incarnate of Time. It seems he was alerted by the Council as soon as they realized I had control of the substation. I fought with him when he tried to intervene,”
The traveler blinked.
“And he isn't a threat. Compared to...what I anticipated, he wasn't as powerful as I thought. He is clearly just getting a grip on his powers. If it was just him, there wouldn't have been a problem. There were two others with him, a man and a woman. The man was...frankly nothing special at all. The woman though...she was at least as good as McNeil. She wielded a powerful flaming broadsword that just exuded power. I do not know where it came from, but with it she was fiercesome.
“Between the pair of them, I got double-teamed and pushed into a compromising position. As my job was already done, instead of pressing the issue with any...more powerful moves, I chose to leave,”
Hunter paused once again, as if waiting for someone to say something. Yet again, no one spoke a word.
“All does appear ready for the invasion, however. Almost all of our preparations are complete, and now that the Barrier fail-safe has been disabled everything is set. As we speak, the last batch of the recruits have been put into the chambers for the Ritual. Even if we get poor results, our force of Elites still stands at an acceptable level for the plan.”
“Ritual? I assume it's some sort of sensory deprivation ritual?” asked Dusek quietly.
Hunter paused, turning slowly to face the man. “That is none of your concern.”
“Tell him, Hunter,” said the King softly. “He is about to join our ranks, so there is no need to keep secrets.”
The injured man hesitated. “...Fine. It is the main weapon of the Horde. It involves the systematic destruction of each of the five senses,”
“Sight,” Hollow eye sockets.
“Smell,” Narrow slits for nostrils.
“Taste,” A stump of a tongue.
“Hearing,” Shallow indentations for ears.
“Touch,” Melted, scarred skin.
Silence fell over the stone hall. The traveler remained still for a moment before speaking up. “And...what does this accomplish?”
Hunter stepped backward, his face falling into shadow. “Your mind...it is no longer burdened with extraneous information. With...some help, it can be coaxed into unlocking your sixth sense. As I'm sure you know, energy is everything. The manipulation of energy in all it's forms has long been something only people with...abilities such as yours can control. What no one has ever realized, however, is that the ability to do so is extremely common. Nearly all Pokémon could manipulate energy at will, which is how they were able to wield such logic-defying attacks.
“The truth is, almost all people can do the same. The problem is, the mind doesn't have the resources to collect and use the energy, much less the willpower to control it. That is where the Ritual comes in. On our...participants, I perform the ritual. With a bit of work, they too can have the same abilities that I wield.”
Dusek remained stone-faced. “...My question is...how is someone expected to survive?”
Hunter remained silent. With a slight nod to the King, he turned to leave. Before reaching the door he paused.
“Very few do. Welcome to the Horde, Dusek.”
“Please, no! Back off! NO! NO! PLEASE NO!”
Kyrie slid back against the wall, her eyes wide open. Horrible, wretched screams exploded out in the silence. The girl cringed, pressing her hands over her ears. There was no way...they were torturing him. Was that what they were going to do to all of them?
Slowly, the screams faded away into silence. A sickly squelching sound broke the silence, followed by a soft splatter.
Her mouth fell open. She looked down at her violently shaking form, the shattering of her teeth ringing in her ears. Her mind was blank, it couldn't be happening. Vague sounds of tearing and breaking overcame her mind.
It couldn't be.
“Let me out of here!”
It wasn't happening.
“What are you bastards doing? Get us the fuck out of here!”
Ripping, shredding, it is time.
“LET ME OUT!”
Roaring flames, ready to consume flesh.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING? GET AWAY FROM ME, BACK OFF!”
The fiends of hell grow near.
“No, get away from me! No! NO! NOOOOO!”
Hide, hide little girl, we will find you
Release your grip without a sound
The time for (life) death is here
Let us devour your body and (free) your mind
Rivers of (your) blood
Mountains of (your) flesh
Skies stained by (your) evil
Wind tainted by (your) poison
The (ETERNAL) night is here
Blood red skies cast a murderous glow over the pure black tower. The pale ash-covered earth reached out as far as the eye could see, far out into the bloodied horizon. The acrid smell of death rolled up from the infinite expanses of destruction.
On the very top of the highest tower, Kyrie gazed down at the end of the world.
“Welcome to Hell.”
The wan faced teenager turned slowly away from the carnage, eyes not meeting the monster that stood behind her. “...It is almost over, isn't it?”
“Yes, it is. The world has but months left. What you see here...it is what will happen if nothing is stopped, nothing changes.”
“You are very special, you know that don't you?”
“...What is going to happen to everyone?” whispered the girl.
“The loving arms of Death will take them. There is nothing that can be done about your friends, however. The Overlord and Phoenix are warring as we speak and it must be stopped. If not...what you see before you will become a reality.”
Her tired brown eyes gazed once more out at the immense field of ash. “What can I do?”
“You have the ability to mend this, to fix it all. Come to me.”
The teenager complied, turning slowly. A wraith of shadow hovered slightly off the ground, it's bright blue eyes looking down at her, entirely emotionless. Wrapped around it's head was a splash of blood red color, almost disappearing into the scarlet sky behind it.
Kyrie hesitated for a moment, then stepped forward. The wraith extended two clawed hands, resting them on her shoulders.
“I, the Lord of Nightmares, wish you luck my daughter. Accept a gift so that you may be able to prevent the end of days,”
Shadow immediately obscured her vision.
“May the Zenith see the error of his ways.”
With a soft whisper, Hell melted away.