Throught the Night

A world on the edge of war. A boy who hosts a dormant evil on the brink of being unleashed. A tortured woman with a dark past. An ex-prisoner with an infinite stash of secrets. A blind assassin who knows nothing but bloodshed and darkness. All of these come together in an unlikely band to join the rebellion against the forces of hell itself. But when the skeletons in their closets come out to play, who will find themselves on heaven's side, and who will burn?

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1. Prologue: In Darkness

The night was cold. Yet Arkuros Restorvallé did not shiver as the frigid wind howled around him. He stood on the balcony overlooking the city of Sahelleve. His city. Capitol city of the land of Zaré. He surveyed his massive kingdom with satisfaction. The rich tapestries displaying all of his morbid victories hung behind him in his throne room. They kindled his pride until it was a raging inferno. He had done the impossible. He had risen above the One who thought himself to be lord and master. Arkuros had the world at his fingertips, and had declared himself god over all humankind. He decided who lived, who died, and who did not have the privilege of either.

Arkuros turned and strode to his throne. He sat in it and let his fingers glide along the stone armrests. The immense hall was lined with towering pillars of black stone, each engraved with Zarésian symbols and runes. There were two balconies on either side of the room, their doors unlatched and swinging wide, letting the winter air in. The heavy drapes that usually covered the doors were flapping about gently, free from their bonds.

Torch light flickered on the walls and cast strange shadows throughout the grand hall. The light did not reach the high ceiling, giving the already eerie room an even darker atmosphere. Starlight from the balconies left patches of silver beams on the stone carpet-covered floor, as if competing with the shadows that left the room in blackness.

The doors of the entrance to the throne room were closed; they would not be for long. Two black and gold clad guards were standing motionless on either side of the doors, waiting to fling them open at Arkuros’ command. Arkuros was waiting for someone. Another pawn in the twisted game that he was playing.

The room suddenly echoed faintly with the sound of approaching feet. Arkuros nodded to the stiff men beside the doors, and they reached forward to open them.

Two more men marched in, each gripping the arm of a small figure. The small figure was shoved to the crimson-carpeted floor.

“You may leave us.” Arkuros commanded. Each man in the room left before he had even finished. There was the slight sound behind him of various other servants that had been waiting on him rushing to follow suit.

Once everyone had left, the small boy lying pitifully on the red plush carpet coughed and weakly tried to lift himself up. Arkuros got up from his throne and made his way to the boy, crossing the distance with a few strides.

He bent down to the boy’s level and whispered in his ear.

“Welcome back, prince.” His breath ruffled the hair around the boy’s ear. The boy looked up. His face was streaked with dirt and tears. There was dried blood on his lip and his red-rimmed eyes were both black and blue.

“Watashi no chichi wa doko ni aru nodeshouka?” The boy spoke in his native language. Where is my father? He tried to sound brave, but Arkuros could see the fear in his eyes.

“Don’t worry, little bird.” Arkuros replied in the same tongue. He gripped the boy’s long black hair and jerked him up. He smiled at the small child’s cry of pain. How it warmed his soul to hear his underlings cry out. “That man is not your father. He kidnapped you from me. I am your father. And you shall soon forget that this abomination ever existed. Raven, you are to become what you were born to be.”

"My name is Takehiko! You are not my father!" The boy shouted with sudden bravery.

Reaching forth a hand decorated with jewels and precious stones, Arkuros laid it on his son’s forehead. His other hand still gripped the mass of tangled black hair. Mumbling softly, he weaved a spell from the inner parts of his power, and felt the black magic creeping down his arm. When the power reached his fingertips, he whispered the curse words that he had been laboring over for the past few days.

The boy cried out again. His startling violet-colored eyes widened in fear and pain, before they flashed with dark magic and lost focus. He let out one more terrified whimper and then fell limp in Arkuros’ grasp. He frowned, and hoped that he had not miscalculated the amount of power to use, lest he had killed the boy. The child was slight of frame, and it would have been easy to overdo it. But, when the king leaned down, he heard his son's deep breaths.

“Wake up, boy. Wake up.” Arkuros shook the thin shoulders of the child. Raven opened his eyes and rubbed them furiously. He took a shaky breath, and then glanced around at his surroundings.

“Koko wa doko?” Where am I? The boy asked. The memory curse had done its work.

“You are home. I am your father.” The boys haunting eyes shone with confused tears. “Now get dressed. You have much training to do.” Arkuros used his mind to tell one of his servants to come into the room. “First of all, you shall need to learn Zarésian. The one we are using at the present is unsophisticated and barbaric.”

“Nani?” The boy looked confused. “Nani ga okotte iru?”

“Don't question me. Now get up.” The words connected to the child’s brain and he stood up with effort. The spell was working marvelously. Finally, he had gotten his most prized possession back.

“Hai, otousan.” Yes, Father. The child stood weakly and was taken away by the servant.

Arkuros smiled with satisfaction. He had already altered the memories of his other children, and anyone else who had known about the kidnapping was arranged to be executed. The plan was in motion. There would be no loose ends. Arkuros turned and gazed over the starlit city, his city.

“So it begins.”  He whispered to the One he had tried so hard to defeat. “I have won. You took my son from me, but now he is back. The move that I have just made is the winning one. There is no hope of victory for you now.”

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