In The Darkness

What she would find that day would change the world she lived in. Ancient pages would show her things that no one would ever believe and lead her to a land beyond her home town of Lockley.
Louisa McCain discovers an old diary in her basement, that tells her of a fantasy land that she could only dream of. She slowly gets entranced by the idea of the beyond, the potential that it holds. She becomes obsessed with finding this place called Philia, frantically scrambling to put together the clues and find the portal.
If she does, will it all be what she imagined or will she be plunged into a world that she wishes she'd never found?

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15. Fifteen

“Here it is.” Xander announced, gesturing to the lake that was identical in size to the one back in Lockley Park. Its surface was midnight in the night, with tiny stars of light that gathered by our feet where our lanterns were.  It was surrounded by nothing, except for the grass that rustled in the gentle breeze that flew across the wavy landscape.

“How am I meant to remember where this is?” I asked, finding no memorable landmarks in the landscape that were close enough.

“Just go to the house that we were in and go through the hole. Then head north-east from there until you reach the lake. It’s not really that hard.” Sam reasoned.

We had had to go through that grotty dirt hole to get here. We each held a lantern, but it was stuffy and cramped with only just enough space to crawl through the enclosed, damp space. Everyone had been annoyed with everyone by the time we had gotten out. Almost everyone had been kicked in the face, except for Xander who had taken the front and come out looking pretty much immaculate, whilst the rest of us looked like we had been to hell and back. Alex had gained a nose bleed from where Sam had kicked him in the nose, I had dirt all in my hair and a boot print on my forehead from where Alex had kicked me in the head, almost knocking me out, and Justin had mud all over his face from when he had almost run into the back of me and face planted the soil, gaining a mask of dirt on his unimpressed face. 

Staring back at me in the glassy surface was me. I was back and no longer the thin, tired looking girl with the straggly hair that I had seen in the mirror back in the cave. I seemed fuller of life, even after only a short while away from Zach. It seemed he was draining me more than I had first realised as I saw the pink flush of life flooding my cheeks for the first time in a long time.

In the distance, the twinkling lights of the village glittered in the darkness, illuminating the distance in the night that was lit only by the crescent moon. The far off hills were barely visible in the midnight. Only huddles of trees could be seen dotted here and there, scattered carelessly and in numerous sizes and heights.

“How do I get through the portal?” I asked, not sure if there were any specific rules to getting back to earth aside from it having to be a new moon. .

“For one, it has to be a new moon.” Alex said pointing up to the almost invisible moon that only showed a slither of its blinding white light now.

“I knew that one already. That’s why I was by the portal in the first place.” I pointed out.

“There is one more thing.” Justin said, “You have to be with a Philian to get through.”

“Oh.” I said, thinking this was a major flaw in the plan. If they were all off distracting the angels, who would be able to take me through the portal?

“Who’s going to take her through then whilst everyone else is out there in the war zone?” Sam asked, trying to make the situation a little more light hearted with his slightly joking tone.

Silence fell as the wolves all looked at each other. None of them wanted to miss out on any of the action, that was blatantly clear to me. One of them had to though, that was the whole aim of the plan to get me back to Earth. Or was it?

I started to doubt the whole plan and what the main achievement of it was. From the way they had constantly talked about the angels, it seemed that their main focus was to get back at the angels for something. What that something was, I didn’t know. Yet.

“What do you have against the angels?” I asked bluntly, just shooting the question out there. It echoed around the empty space, like a gunshot, loud and deadly.

“They ruined our lives.” Alex said sombrely, ducking his head to the ground as he said that simple sentence.

“How?” I asked, focusing my eyes on him now, thinking he would be the most likely to respond.

“They murdered our families.” Justin said, no emotion penetrating his voice. “They slaughtered us, one by one, for no clear reasons except we were a threat to them and their beloved top spot. We could have taken all their power had we wanted to back then but we never made a move to once.” His voice held a certain harshness to it, that layered deeper than I ever thought possible. It was clear to me that Justin had been affected by what had happened, whatever did happen, but he tried to suppress his feelings.

Tears streamed freely down Alex’s face, glinting in the moonlight as they fell softly to the earthen floor.

“Why would they do that when you weren’t even acting in a threatening way?” I asked, not wanting to upset any of them further yet feeling I needed to know what had happened to understand their motives.

“Because they were paranoid.” Xander spat, “They still are, even today. Just because the werewolves had a population explosion, they thought that we would want all their power for ourselves. They thought us greedy and scheming; a threat to society and the whole of Philia. We never gave them reason to think those things, but they did. All those paranoid, hypocritical judgements led to were the death of a thousand innocents. The deaths of our brothers and sisters, our mothers and fathers and everyone we ever loved and cared for. Entire packs were wiped out within days, whole towns of us in weeks, just gone. They stopped when they thought our numbers were sufficiently down but they would’ve killed all of us if it wasn’t for the protests of the still fairly large population that was the rest of us.”

Silence rung again, lasting for what felt like hours but was probably only minutes. The horror of what had happened hit me like a bullet; realisation was a curse that hit me straight in the stomach, knocking all the air out of my lungs.

“I’m so, so sorry.” I whispered, a lump lodging itself into my throat as tears pooled in the corners of my eyes for the losses that these four werewolves had been through.

“Let’s get back to the house.” Xander said, looking away from all of us. I caught a glimpse of his face, half shadowed by the moonlight. A single tear rolled down his cheek, glistening in the moon beams as it created its salted trail down his face. The he looked away, heading off back towards the forest behind us to where the hole was concealed.

***

“We need to strike when they are weakest.” Xander declared, now recovered from the emotion by the portal. He had stoned himself now, becoming a harsh leader out of the scarred boy he had been just minutes ago.

“When is Zach going to be at his weakest?” I asked.

“When he is asleep and his body is almost defenceless. That is when we will get him and dispose of him. We will then have limited time to get Louisa to the portal before the word gets to the rest of the archangels and the king. From there, we will have to fight, with everything we’ve got. Hopefully, Louisa’s chaperone will be back by the time the full battle begins, but that cannot be certain until the night.” Xander plotted, looking around at each of us individually to check we were all paying one hundred per cent attention to what he was saying.

“How many wolves can we get to help us in the battle?” Sam asked.

“I’ve asked several packs but only Ashton and Susanna’s packs have agreed to help us so far. So we have us four, possibly three, plus ten more.” Xander said.

“How many angels will there be?” Sam asked.

“The king probably won’t get involved with the battle but the remaining six archangels will. I don’t know how many others will get involved but I’m almost certain that we will be outnumbered, even though we have more preparation than them. Their numbers are so great that they could easily gather an army in a day, if not less.”

“But we’ll be better prepared for the battle, right?” I asked, not wanting to put these people in too much jeopardy.

“We will be better prepared in ways, yes. The angels have an action plan so they can leap straight into battle with no planning needed, straight away. They are prepared for these kinds of things, every single one of them, because of their paranoia about being overthrown. Their plan is more tailored for any kind of battle, where as we have a plan specifically for this occasion. We also have the advantage of choosing the battle ground as they will be looking for us and not the other way around.”

“So, we’ll definitely win?” I asked, wanting to be clear that I would not cause any irreversible changes to Philia.

“Louisa, you will be safe back on Earth. You don’t have to worry about these things. You will play no part in the after math and the battle itself so why are you worrying about it?”

“I just don’t want to be responsible for causing too much havoc and death.”

“Well you should have thought about that before you asked me to help you. Death will be inevitable and havoc will have to happen. The battle will happen and people will die, there is nothing you can do about that. You can’t back out now. We must go ahead with this. The morale of the wolves is high and they are all prepared for the battle which will come with the rise of the next new moon.”

“I never knew that all this would happen after!” I yelled, getting angry now that I was just being dismissed and given no option in this.

“Well I thought I made that pretty clear.” He shouted back, taking a step towards me, “You knew Zachariel would have to die, so that’s one death that you knew about.”

“Yes, but I didn’t care about him when you told me. I wasn’t bothered if he would die or not because he had lied to me, Xander. He had used me for his own benefit.”

“You didn’t care for him. So you do now?”

“Of course I don’t! How could I like the angel who was killing me from the inside out from the first time I met him?”

“I don’t know. But I don’t know anything anymore, Louisa. I don’t understand why you would be bothered about all this now after all we’ve already planned and all the time and risks I’ve taken to help you escape.”

“Why did you even help me in the first place?” I shouted, exasperated.

“Calm down, Xander, Louisa.” Alex got in between us, splitting us up. I didn’t realise how close we had gotten, but we were literally nose to nose until Alex intervened. He shot us both a pointed look, telling us to calm down and cooperate.

Xander stalked off to the other side of the dingy room, into the shadows away from the orange flame that flickered in the centre of the room. He stared at the wall for a while, regaining his stony composure.

“Now,” Alex said, “are we going to be civil and discuss this plan like adults or are we going to just bicker like children and get nothing done resulting in more deaths that necessary? We are playing with the fire that I life here so we need to be serious.”

I looked up from the ground I had been string at, nodding my head in agreement. We all stared at the back of Xander’s head, watching for any movement at all. At long last, he jerked his head in a nodding motion, turning around to half face us then proposed, “As long as Louisa does not speak any more about everyone dying for her.”

They were though, weren’t they? I suppose they had a decision in it themselves as to whether they would participate in the battle, but it was me that had caused this mess initially. I should have never touched that leather bound book that fateful day in the basement. I wouldn’t be here now, I wouldn’t have caused this mess or be in this nightmare.

We would get nowhere if I disagreed though, so I reluctantly nodded my head, submitting to Xander’s request.

“Good. Let us continue with our planning then.” Alex said, pleased with himself and backing off to the outer edge of the circle.

“So,” Xander said, “We’re going to murder Zachariel in his sleep on the night of the new moon. Then, we’re going to rush through this house at to the portal with Louisa. Whilst one of us is transporting Louisa back home, the others will be going to Alkatar hill to prepare for battle with the other packs, which will be waiting for us there. The battle should commence around the midnight that night, as that is approximately how long we think the angels will take to discover Zachariel’s body and prepare for battle. Are there any questions or are we done here?”

“Who is taking me back to Earth?” I asked tentatively, not knowing how thick the ice was when it came to me and Xander at the moment.

“Good question, Louisa, who is taking you back to Earth?” Xander asked, scanning the wolves and deciding who would have the task of delivering me home.

“I think you should do it, Xander.” Sam said matter of fact.

“And why is that, Sam? I am the pack leader, so shouldn’t I definitely be on the battlefield with the rest of my pack?”

“No, no you shouldn’t because you’re the one who offered to help Louisa here, so you should be the one to actually help her back home. We’re not your slaves Xander and we sure as hell won’t do your work for you. You said you’d help the girl, you help her.”

Xander was stunned to silence. It was true though, he had been the one to offer. The others had just come into the deal later on and had little to do with the initial idea of getting me back to Earth.

“He has a point.” I murmured.

“Shut up, Louisa! You’re the one who got us in this mess in the first place!” Xander growled.

“Eurgh! You are such a hypocrite!” I screamed at him, “You tell me not to say it’s my fault and then you go and say it’s my entire fault!  You know what; this is your entire fault. You didn’t have to get involved, but you did, and I appreciate that but I just wish you would stop being such a hypocrite and contradicting yourself.”

“Fine then. I’ll take you back to Earth.” Xander shouted, and then stomped off up the stairs.

“Bloody hypocritical idiot.” I muttered under my breath.

“He’s just stressed, Louisa.” Alex said, coming up behind me and putting a comforting arm around my shoulder.

“About this?” I asked, hoping that wasn’t yet another thing he could blame me for.

“Yes and no. This battle has been impending for years now. It just seems you have been the catalyst for it.” Alex explained.

“So I’m the reason it’s all happening now?” I asked.

“Kind of. As I said, Xander’s agreeing to help you because of the situation you’re in has caused this. Therefore, it is mostly Xander to blame for bringing the war to this date because if he hadn’t offered to help you, this wouldn’t be happening right now.”

This was just confusing me. It seemed like a combination of faults and that no one was wholly to blame for what was happening. Every angle you looked at it, someone different was to blame for the choices they had made.

“At the end of the day,” Alex continued, “what’s done is done and only fate can dictate what happens now. I believe that what’s happened was meant to be and that now is the time that Philia sorts out its issues and the different sides come together in a war that will result in peace or total destruction of all but one race.”

“It could go either way then.” I said, shrugging my shoulders.

“It could go either way, you are right there Louisa.” Alex said, heading towards the stairs.

I was alone now in the basement, the light the only comfort in the otherwise shadow washed room. All the others had gone up the concrete steps and into the light again, leaving behind the gloom of the underworld and into the all encompassing light. There was that tiny glimmer of comfort though that lay within the orange flame that danced in the faint breeze that came from up above.

It was that same flame that flickered within me now. It was a flame of hope that now dimmed within me as the burden of what I had partially caused continued to layer on top of it, almost extinguishing it into nothing. It still burned weakly, though, sending a glow out in the dark anxiety and pain that had been everywhere around me since I had arrived here in Philia. It had lit my way since I had overheard Zach talking to his friends that day and had resided in my gut ever since, guiding my way through all my decisions that I had to make along the journey, the voyage that I so badly wanted to end right now. It wouldn’t, though. I had to wait until tomorrow night when the sky would be midnight black. It would not be lit by the moon, not even a slither of its beams would escape as it showed us its dark side, opening the portal to Earth. The only thing that would light my way on that night would be that glimmer of hope that stayed inside me, glowing with an effervescent light. 

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