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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17. Seventeen

The night had well and truly begun now as we made our way from the portal to the caves where Zach resided. Xander had decided to take us through the tunnel so we would look less conspicuous. Also, we had less chance of being seen by any of the other angels who had probably already realised that Raphael had gone.

The only problem we had now was if Zach was part of the search party. Our plan would be well and truly flawed if that happened and the battle would happen a lot sooner that what we had first thought. I would hopefully be out of the way by the time the battle came, but if worst came to worst and I did get stuck in the thick of it, Xander had given me a dagger that fit into the belt loop of my jeans.

We continued to trek across the hilly landscape, heading towards the dark mountains in the distance that were now haunting shadows in the twilight. The lights of the village were far behind us now and all we had was a small oil lamp with a tiny yellow flame in the centre, casting out a muted glow that only just gave the three of us access to sight.

We would need to be able to see as much as we could without giving ourselves away. We needed to be aware of the enemy, without them being aware of us. We had to stealthy and lithe; complete our task as efficiently as possible and then evacuate the cave which would contain all the evidence the angels would need to want to start a battle.

The caves grew closer now, the tips of the mountains no longer visible unless you looked up towards the absent moons empty space in the night sky. The soft trudging of our feet on the grass was the only sound for miles. The rest of Philia was silent, the land awaiting the impending battle and relishing the last moments of quiet before the battle cries and clashing of weapons poisoned the air with their torturous sounds.

A gust of wind rushed over the open plains, throwing the grass this way and that with its powerful blow. My hair whipped around my face, twisting in hundreds of knots in the sudden wind. The trees bent over under the intensity of the wind, forced to bow down to its command whilst being stripped bare of some of their leaves.

The entrance of the cave was now in front of us, the mahogany door awaiting our arrival. The door was outlined in a border of pitch black, indicating either the absence of the inhabitant or that they were asleep. I hoped for the latter, but only fate could choose whether we would strike lucky this time around.

Xander mouthed ‘ready?’ to which me and Justin nodded our heads. The light was extinguished so that its glowing flame would not give us away. I was plunged into blackness, surrounded by it from every angle whilst my eyes adjusted slowly to the lack of light.

I heard the door moan as it opened, allowing more dark space to be unveiled to my eyes. I could see nothing inside. I had no idea whether Zach was in there or not or even if he still lived there anymore.

Muffled footfalls went through the opening in the wall, descending into the midnight hole and into the unknown.

I didn’t know whether the wolves could see or not, but from the confidence with which they tiptoed around, I had a feeling they could see. I followed the sound of their steps; having to strain my ears to hear where they were going in the dungeon I had been kept in for so long. Despite having been there for months, I had pretty much been confined to my room as an unspoken rule, so I had next to no idea of how to get around the place.

In the living room, it was easy to navigate, but after that, it was a labyrinth of hallways and stone carved stairs. I knew roughly where my room was in relation to the living room and what I thought to be Zach’s room, but the time away had already made me forget how to navigate the place.

Xander looked back at me with a questioning look, asking where the room we needed was. I shrugged a little but beckoned for him to follow me into the hall. I pointed to a closed door, where the sound of light snores came. We were in luck today.

A smile spread across my face as I continued to jab my finger towards the door, almost jumping up and down with excitement, adrenaline seeping into my veins at the thought of what was going to happen tonight. After this, everything would be a blur. We would have to run back to the portal from the caves and then take me through before Xander entered the battle with Justin.

Xander nodded towards the door I was pointing at, asking for confirmation. I eagerly nodded my head, walking towards the door myself.

He placed his hand on the handle, taking a deep breath. This was it. This was the pivotal moment. After this, there was no turning back. The only thing we would run on would be pure instinct, no forward planning allowed. The events that followed this moment would be unpredictable and unexpected, leaving us as much in the dark as the angels were. There would be a pretty much even field in the end. The only thing that could tip the balance was tactics and the quality of the fighting that each side put up. One wrong move could be fatal.

The door clicked open, silently swinging open on its well oiled hinges.  We stopped dead still. No movement came from the direction of the snoring shadow on the bed, only the steady rise and fall of its middle as it breathed in and out.

We progressed forward, edging towards the bed, closer and closer. The figure shuffled around in its sleep, tossing and turning as if enraptured in a nightmare. I clutched the dagger at my belt, gripping the handle in case I needed to use the weapon to defend myself.

Justin had remained outside the door, ready on lookout in case any other angels decided to join Zach in the dead hours of the night. The hours would not be dead much longer though. They were about to receive the electric shock of war as the sun shot up above the horizon later, announcing the start of a new day and a new battle.

 Had no idea how we were going to kill Zach. Did angels have any abilities that prevented them from being assassinated or did we just slit his throat?

Xander held out his hand, staring at the dagger in my belt loops and motioning with his fingers for me to give it to him. I slipped it out of its casing and handed it to him, my hand quivering ever so slightly from the adrenaline and fear that coursed through my veins in time with my pounding heart. He gripped the knife with a tough grip, sliding his sword into its scabbard as he took a few steps towards the head of the bed.

I stood at the footboard, gripping the intricately carved wood for support as I stared into the face of the angel that I had once thought the world of. I thought back to the time when I was left in the dark, how happy I had been and filled with unadulterated love and affection for the angel, my angel. Even after I knew, he still defended me against the others, trying to keep me alive as long as he could and caring for me whilst I stayed holed up in my room. Zach wasn’t that bad of a person really, he was only trying to survive by feeding off me; he had only done what he knew he had to and was necessary for his survival.

My eyes locked onto Xander’s, asking him if there was any other way to do this with the pleading look in my eyes as they glistened with tears. The salty drops hung onto my lids, clinging on for dear life before tumbling down my cheeks and onto my neck, trailing down my body until they finally hit the cold, stone floor that killed them instantly.

“Isn’t there another way?” I whispered choking on my words, my eyes sealed shut so I didn’t have to see the death of the angel.

I cracked my eyes open to see Xander shaking his head, the dagger positioned over Zach’s heart, ready to take the plunge. I couldn’t close my eyes again, wanting to see what happened; staring at the dagger with a sick fascination. I didn’t want to watch this torturous act, yet I was curious to see what would happen as the dagger drove its way into Zach’s chest.

The point settled above his heart, splitting the material of his shirt with no problem. Xander took a deep breath, preparing himself for what he was about to do. I knew inside me that this would change Philia indefinitely and send the light filled facade into the age of darkness that was inevitable. It would cause many deaths, that even I knew, but it would transform Philia forever, most likely for the better.

The dagger was forced into the flesh, scarlet pooling around the silver in a lake of blood. Two eyes stared at Xander, then me as the dagger continued to descend into the chest of Zach.

“Louisa?” he rasped, his breathing now faltering.

I nodded, unable to say a word through the lump that had stuck in my throat, preventing any more tears from falling.

“Why? Why did you do this to me? I only did what I had to, to survive. I was only surviving.” He whispered.

“I know.” I choked, another tear escaping from the corner of my eye.

I focused my gaze on his face. It was a picture of love, not of the pain I had envisioned as I watched the dagger drive into his chest.

“I hope you get home, my Louisa. Thank you.” Zach whispered, taking my gaze in his own as his eyes slowly closed.

“Thank you, Zach. Thank you for getting me through this and showing me Philia. I’m sorry it had to end this way.” I whispered softly, watching the dagger ride the breath in his chest for the last time before it fell back down for the final time.

My emotions were all over the place, both glad that I could now go home with no attachments to this world, yet devastated that the one who had guided me through this world had gone forever. Tears fell in rivulets down my cheeks, whilst the adrenaline of realisation hit my system with a hard jolt.

I had to get a hold of myself and exchange all this emotion for stone cold determination. If I didn’t, I don’t think I ever would have left that cave where the angel lay in eternal slumber. I had to erect a wall around my collapsing heart, effectively cutting off the hub of feeling from the rest of my body and steeling my mind for what was to come.

I would probably see more death tonight, of strangers, friends and foes. The one thing they would have in common tonight would be that they were fighting; battling for what they thought was right and the wellbeing of their people and country.

Xander rose from the bedside, his face arranged in a neutral expression, completely blank of any emotion. I glanced at him, forcing my face into a similar fashion to his, and then turned towards the door without a second glance at the bed where the angel lay.

A slow dripping echoed around the stone walls, splatters of scarlet staining the stone, trailing down from a hand, a wrist, an arm. I stopped myself from looking further up the paling skin that no longer pulsed with vibrant life, but lay limp and lifeless.

“Come on now, Louisa. We have to get going now or we won’t make it to the portal in time.” Xander said sternly, grabbing my wrist and dragging me from the room.

I constructed the walls around my emotional centre with the same stone of the caves, ensuring it was metres thick and impenetrable. I couldn’t allow for any emotion to leak out into my system at the moment, only the rush of adrenaline was allowed along with pure determination and concentration.

I was marched through multiple doors, the tears now dried up completely, leaving my eyes deserted of moisture and life. Justin tagged along behind us, rushing to keep up with mine and Xander’s pace as we exited the cave.

 

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