When the World Falls to Darkness

A kingdom at war, a web of truth and lies, a vicious game of friendship and betrayal, and a world that will kill you, whatever path you take.
When the World Falls to Darkness, nobody is safe.
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Beautiful cover by River_Summers.

(I also promise much more frequent updates starting July, when exams are over. :D)

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12. Comfort

No matter how hard he tried to comprehend her actions, nothing would come. The angel had saved him. Avalon - who should realise that to do such a thing was to defy the very laws of her race - had saved him from the pain. If this was a dream, Lukas didn't ever want to wake up.

"Ava...Avalon..." he managed to murmur, his voice shattered beneath the pain that engulfed his entire body.

"Calm down, you don't have to speak. I'm sorry, Louki. But I'm going to get you away from here, I promise."

Louki...? Lukas had to think for a minute before he finally managed to grasp the answer. His false name - another lie fed to his saviour for his own protection. But no name could protect him from the torture. Only her - the angel. Besides, why was she sorry? Hadn't she rescued him from the inescapable hell of the torturers? The effort of thinking became painful, too, and the thoughts blurred together in an ugly mixture of confusion and suffering.

A gust of wind collided with them, surprisingly warm compared to the freezing, damp cell Lukas had become so accustomed to. Sensing Avalon wavering in her flight, Lukas wondered - painfully - how long she'd been soaring for, simply to reach him. Him: a Guardian. Him: a so-called swine 'built only for slavery'. That she hadn't merely abandoned him left a warmth in his heart, a comfort he believed to be lost to him completely ever since the deaths of his family. The very sensation was beautiful.

Closing his eyes, Lukas allowed the soothing air to calm him slightly, the glorious, delightful feeling in his chest swelling through him and overcoming just a little of the pain, as Avalon's strangely melodic heartbeat filled his ears. After such a hateful, painful experience in the prison, this flight was amazing. Pain was still coursing through his body, but in some strange, mysterious way, Avalon's presence alone could chase some of it away.

"I'm about to land, okay? So don't worry when we go down."

Lukas managed a weak nod, and the descent began, slowly, gently. Another sweeping wave of wind clashed against them, and Lukas stifled a cry as Avalon was pushed to the right, jolting his shattered body.

"Just hold on. We'll be on the ground soon," Avalon assured him, her powerful wings beating as they neared the litter of leaves that created the forest floor. Ripples of pain undulated through him as they landed, the impact - though small - forcing snakes of agony through his veins. Gently, Avalon set him on the floor, propping him up against the trunk of a tree. He could see her body trembling even through the blurred, bloodied vision that remained. Exhaustion, most likely.

She half-fell, half-crouched, to the floor, and Lukas could make out a swift, sharp gasp of pain. Of course... She was wounded, too. Another act to protect him.

"I'll try to heal your head injuries, but my healing magic's not that good. The best I can do is to take away the pain a little, and it might force you to black out," Avalon told him, raising her hands to his forehead. They hovered above his bloodied head, emerald light spilling from her palms. Glorious, blissful oblivion crept upon him, touching him with tendrils of an almost celestial kind.

The last thing he saw was Avalon tumbling to the floor, drained of all energy. All went black.

 

 

When he awoke, the pain had been subdued a little, and there was sunlight. Confusion clawed at his mind, relentless in its frenzy. Was this death? Could such a dark subject feel so strangely light?

A voice entered his mind, a blurred shape moving before him.

It all came back. Avalon. Avalon had saved him. She had carried him from the torment and suffering.

"Louki, how are you feeling? Don't talk if it hurts."

Thoughts tried to enter his mind, uncaring to the knives they sent through his mind as they did so. One such thought - a memory, he decided - reminded him of something. A hope that he'd been clinging to desperately before the pain overwhelmed all else.

"Ryuu?" he croaked, through bloodied lips.

"Recovering. Thanks to you."

Relief washed over him, for a brief second even relieving him of the stinging throb of the wounds. Ryuu - alive. The elf was safe, and for that, Lukas was filled with alleviation.

"Thank you," he breathed.

"No," she replied. "Thank you. Ryuu... He's all I have left. And you saved him. So thank you, Louki. I mean it."

Silence settled briefly over the two of them, but Avalon quickly cut through it.

"I'm going to get some water from the stream. I'll be back in five minutes."

With that, the angel left, and Lukas was alone again. There was a whispering, the faint murmurs of death itself. Almost like the torturer was back, trying to break him, trying to shatter him. Lukas blinked and the light was gone again, replaced a world of eternal darkness but for a flickering flame dancing mockingly at his suffering. He tried to breathe, but the air would not come - only the putrid stench of the prison and the blood and the decay.

Lukas clamped his hands over his ears, and the torment returned.

 

 

When she came back, he was curled up in a ball, whimpering softly to himself in a subdued, terrified language that seemingly was incomprehensible to any but him, his entire body invaded by violent trembling.

She was at his side within seconds; Lukas could feel her arm around his shoulders, bringing him back to reality, carrying him once again from the confinement of the cell and all it's misery. Melodious words conquered the hisses of the wind, her gentle hand clasping his head to her shoulder. Lukas knew he would soak it with tears, though gradually she was chasing those away too.

"I won't let them hurt you again," she repeated. "You saved Ryuu, and I'll never let them take you. Never again, Louki. I promise."

His mind was still aching, but at least the illusions were wearing off. No longer could he see them, holding whips above his head and relentlessly striking the bare flesh of his back, again and again and again.

"Avalon..." he whispered her name, perhaps in a plea, perhaps in a display of gratitude. Even Lukas himself didn't know; to say another's name with emotion... The very concept felt strange.

"Calm down," she murmured. "You're safe with me. I won't hurt you, I'll never hurt you."

Lukas allowed her to comfort him, feeling so completely strange in another's warming arms, depending on another for strength. Especially an angel - one of the Alpha races. But it was somehow nice, to know that he was no longer alone. No longer cursed to wander the four kingdoms, watching the war and praying only for a friend. Praying for the world to change, for them to accept Guardians. Like his brother. His brother, killed at the hands of the Alpha races.

Now, he had a friend. And yes, the world might not be changing. But he had Avalon.

So at least it would be bearable. 

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