Darkness Is Rising
Darkness is Rising in the Norophim Realms in a Time Before Human Kings…
In the darkness of an abandon castle, the ceiling collapsed. As stone blocks fell, Golonian Knight, Lord Ceffron tumbled in the wreckage. He dropped to the floor with a loud thud that dispersed a fog of dust and debris. The tall, sturdy man, in his late thirties, wearing armor made of steel and leather stumbled to his feet and swatted a swarm of locusts near his face. Their teeth snapped like clanking metal as they tore this man’s flesh from his cheek.
Grimacing in pain, Ceffron reached into his side scabbard and drew Livitus, a 30-inch, single-hand sword forged of organic metal. It rippled with waves of blue light. He twirled the razor-sharp blade with speed and the living steel growled in delight while slashing the locusts into pieces.
“Kill him! Kill the Gol!” a man’s haggard, wispy voice shouted from a distance. The words lingered in the shadows of the room as if more than one person spoke.
Ceffron tightened his grip around the sweat-soaked leather handle of Livitus. He glared at red-eyed, flying insects as they formed a bee-like swarm. Throwing back his shoulders, Ceffron shouted, “Wings” in his tongued words and, within an instant, a cloud of white light blazed from his shoulders and formed into two grayish-black, eagle-like wings. As they unfolded, Ceffron blew backwards off the ground and into the air.
Wings flapping, Ceffron ascended about ten feet. The locusts were propelled like flying darts of red fire. He felt pressure and then burning, dropping to the floor, kneeling on one knee. Breathing heavily, he angrily eyed his feathered extensions and saw fifty or more puncture wounds seeping with thick reddish, molten fire blood. The wings dispersed into the light unable to hold form in their wounded condition. The locusts swarmed around him.
Lord Ceffron saw the locusts were well-organized and ready to attack. His armor chest plates were heavy. He had expected less of fight, considering he was a knight for the Norophim Council and the Golonian realm and the respected commander of the Raven Knights. However, this was much more than a mere fight of resistance, he had experienced something similar on past missions. The air was dark and evil was brewing in the shadows and he felt its power growing.
“The words are the force. The energy is the source. Master the tongued words through sound and thought and know supremacy like no other…. Feel the power that will take you further. The angelic magic will guide you…protect you…and even kill for you if commanded by you?”
Not sure of where he was, Ceffron pointed his blade in every direction as he scanned room. It was the main dining hall of a castle. The place looked as if it had burned before, considering the walls were blistered, the floor was covered with ash, and the iron furniture was charred, fused into heaps of rubble. From the burnt oily scent, Ceffron knew the castle had been torched by a dragon’s breath, but the fire-breathing creatures had been imprisoned for more than a two decades. This place was old, but he was suspicious of how old.
Ceffron turned toward the rumbling echo of a sickly cough and realized he was not alone. His chest pumped in and out with every breath just short of panic.
“Where are you?” Ceffron shouted. “Show yourself!”
Feeling the presence of something wicked in the shadows, his eyes detected an unknown dark figure lurking in the far end of the room that was obscured and swaying side to side.
“Come out and face me!” Ceffron demanded with the tip of his sword directed toward the mysterious form. “Don’t send your pets to do your dirty work!” he shouted.
Yet, despite his demands, the dark figure did not move, just remaining ominous. Unresponsive. It appeared as if the form was a ghost, but Ceffron knew better. He sensed an ancient being, one of the first to have been born of war in the Norophim Realms. Most Golonians did not dare to speak his name for fear it may empower him. The creature’s stories of terror preceded him: cities riddled with toxic plagues, waters poisoned with blood, and lands rotten by pestilences and death. Feeling anxious, Ceffron knew there could be only one creature capable of controlling the will locusts.
“Coward!” he shouted, baiting the obscured figure.
Suddenly, the shadowy shape lurched from the darkness, slow, gliding as if his feet were not touching the floor. The tall creepy form came into the view of the subtle light from the windows. Maybe a man, he wore a bulky tented hood with a draping black robe. The thick robe concealed every part of his body, except for his pale, wrinkled hands with their usually long fingers and yellowed harden nails. His garments reeked of the definitive scents of mulch and fertilizer.
“Where are the others? The others?” the hooded man echoed in a haggard, raspy voice similar to a wispy wind.
“The Raven Knights will be here soon enough,” Ceffron warned.
“Raven Knights,” the hooded man coughed. Surprised, he sputtered with a hacking laugh and spit green phlegm on the floor. “You…dear…face me alone.”
“I’m responsible for the child,” Ceffron asserted. “Cooperate and I’ll spare you the wrath of my blade.”
“Fool!” the hooded man seethed. “Do you think you can ever kill me? I am a Power. I don’t know death.”
Ceffron smirked. He knew Powers had rapid healing abilities, but their gifts were unpredictable and varied in strength. Although he thought defeating the creature would be difficult, he knew the task was possible as this is not the first time he encountered his kind.
“I am of the brood of Arch Michael, a Power with the Golonians and you should know a Power can kill a Power,” Ceffron said confidently.
The hooded man hacked a laugh. “You’re no Power…you’re just…a GOL.”
Confused, Ceffron thought a Power would know another if he saw one. He felt the hooded man was attempting to distract him with lies and deceptions, traits the creature was known for.
“Enough with the debate. I’ll leave you in peace, if you give me the child,” Ceffron bargained.
“What child?” the hooded man gasped.
“The human woman told me you possessed the last of the chosen children,” Ceffron argued as he inched closer.
“You’ve been deceived by the rambling and dying mud-ling.”
“I know who you are. You weren’t always evil…remember your freedom…remember the happiness.”
“Dying, I think not…she lives.”
The hooded man hacked a laugh and spat on the floor, suggesting Ceffron had been mistaken.
“Your actions break the laws of the Council,” Ceffron reminded him. “You harmed a human and a child is missing. You don’t want war as much as we don’t. I know it!”
“What makes you think you know what we want?”
“I know who you are. You weren’t always evil…remember your freedom…remember the happiness.”
The hooded man dazed into a reverie, hearing the laughter of a child and then a scream. Snapping out the haze, the hooded man sputtered, “Happiness has never existed for us. We was born from the bile of the earth.”
“But you once knew freedom.”
“Freedom?” the hooded man repeated as the echo in his voice filled the air.
“The Golonians, can give you freedom again if we work together to stop the darkness from rising. We can stop it from consuming the light. The Source is warning us. You can be part of the light once again.”
The hooded man contemplated for a moment, then responded, “The Sodonians are strong and relentless. This time it won’t be so easy to maintain the peace. There’s a will be a new Guardian Lord of the realm.”
The news alarmed Ceffron. The Sodonians had not notified the Norophim Council about a new leader in Sodonia. It was a requirement of the truce. With every new change in leadership, the council must be informed immediately and it had not been long since, Ceffron spoken with the Council and they had no update to the change in the Sodonian governance. He knew something was wrong and now all he wanted was to complete the mission and get back to the Council.
“The children must be kept safe and remember the prophecy. Remember your freedom.” Ceffron reasoned, inching closer and waiting for the right moment to strike.
The hooded man stood conflicted. “Freedom,” he mumbled as he remembered the prophecy. He who controlled the cherub children shall rule the world!
The hooded man lifted his head and noticed Ceffron’s position had changed. He realized the Gol had been moving increasingly closer.
He’s stalling. Why will the Golonians help us? He thought.
Furious with disbelief, the hooded man shouted, “Liar! Deception!”
He wielded his arms and spoke in a foul tongue. By his words, he commanded a horde of rats from the cracks and corners of the old castle.
The rodents stampeded from behind the hooded man on each side like two roaring rivers. They were ravenous and foaming at the mouth.
“Subdue the Gol and bring him to us, my children!” the hooded man bellowed. The rats leapfrogged with mouths open and teeth extended.
Backing away, Ceffron twirled Livitus in a crisscross formation. Blood splattered as he slashed the sickly vermin. Through the splatter, he saw a horde of locusts coil from underneath the hooded man’s robe. They quickly spiraled toward Ceffron, striking Livitus from his hand.
The locusts swarmed in a helix. They whipped at Ceffron, ripping his armor of leather and steel piece by piece, tearing his skin, and knocking him off balanced with every snap. He fell, dazed by the attack, falling in and out of consciousness.
Working as one uniformed unit, the locusts made a rope-like formation winding tightly around Ceffron’s arms. Even with the supernatural strength of a fire-blood, he struggled to break free. The locust lifted Ceffron from the floor and carried him to the hooded man. The faceless tunnel of the black hood stared at Ceffron as he dangled in the mid-air, exhausted and bruised. The locusts’ winding tightened.
“Stop!” Ceffron pleaded. “The child is your last hope for freedom.”
“There is no hope, as the darkness is rising.” The hooded man replied. “Now experience the disease of the humans you protect.” He raised his wrinkled hands and lifted his hood.
Ceffron eyes widened. His skin began to pale as a dark mist licked his face. Boils erupted on the surface. Pus seeped down his cheeks. He lifted his head to the ceiling and bawled with pain as he felt the poison plagued his body.
“Release me!” Ceffron shouted in the tongued words.
The old castle began to crumble from the power of his words. The locust dispersed, dropping him to the floor. The concentrated disease pained his body. As he lay on the floor, he saw the insects shielding the hooded man from the falling stone blocks and wood beams. Scowling in pain, he raised his eyes to the roof and saw the locust blocking the hole in the ceiling from which he fell.
No place to fly, Ceffron thought.
Out of breath, Ceffron struggled to stand. He saw shiny metal lying in the rumble. “Livitus,” he called. His sword flew to his hand like a magnet as he stumbled to his feet, mustering his strength. His eyes narrowed at the sight of thousands of rats climbing the walls in a deafening array of scratchy thumps and falling stones.
The hooded man backed away, hacking laughter and spitting.
Lord Ceffron lifted Livitus and yelled, “With the power invested in me from the Norophim realms, I will destroy thee!”
He charged in the direction of the hooded man. His bloody wing deployed. The building shook and crumbled from the power of his words.
“If you love angels, demons, dragons and knights, the Brood of Angels is right for you,” says Tucker. “…And there is more iconic surrealism to come.”
As the struggle for power increases, Daniel, his friends, and the Norophim realms’ fate is cloaked in betrayal, chaos, and a shocking discovery that leaves the unanswered questions: Who is Daniel and how will the Brood of Angels endure?