The Rise of Darkness

In a world of seemingly undisturbed peace, a dark threat rises. Unknown to the clans, there has never been a more prevalent time for the treaty to be in place, but when the treaty is destroyed, unity falls with it. The job of securing the safety of the clans and the eliminating of evil is left to a small group of young clan members.

Together, Karaka, Samil, Takiar and Theodore must fight to regain the peace that has been lost. This is a tale of companionship, adventure, and most of all, betray. Follow a story as it turns into legend.

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4. Chapter 2 - Faint

Chapter 2 - FAINT

 

Theodore woke with an excruciating pain in his left leg. He pulled himself up of the ground, shouting out loudly he almost fainted at the sight, falling backwards into the mud and dirt.

“Egh” he exclaimed, hoping it was a dream, a nightmare. He pulled himself up into a sitting position by grabbing onto a large tree behind him, his arms trembling as he did so. The mud around him was wet and soggy, diluted with red. He dared a look back down, and the whole of his left leg was mangled, the blood immensely spread around him. The wound still heavily bleeding. It was like someone had taken a dagger and had dragged it down his leg from his knee to slightly above his ankle. Ouch. It was a gruesome sight. He almost vomited, and his head was spinning, probably due to half his blood content being spread around him. He breathed slowly and dared a look at his leg. Some parts of his cut had become gamy and a ghastly colour of what looked like a sickly mixture between yellow and green. “Ah ye bugger.” He swore at his leg. He looked around and no one was to be seen. He faintly recognized where he was, somewhere deep into the forest that surrounded the base of the mountains. He had been heading to the Otter clan in order to help with some last minute preparations for the celebrations, a favour to Samil. He must have gotten lost; living in the mountains he rarely came down here.

 

All he remembered was that he was making his merry way when he heard a noise above him; of course he took out his bow and arrow, ready to hunt or defend. He had presumed that the treaty would ensure no one would attack him. No one dared to defy the treaty these days, it was effectively a death sentence in itself. How wrong he must have been. Did someone really just have the balls to attack me? With the ceremony on the way, it was an especially dangerous thing to do. This could cause an uprising, if he managed to survive to tell people. Theodore investigated the wound in more detail, of course this had to happen to him now.

 

His attacker couldn’t have been an outcast, they must have had some form of dagger or knife, and outcasts were given a bow and a single arrow. That couldn’t have done that much damage. He would presume it would be someone like Lakefur, but that couldn’t have been possible. He had recently heard a horn sound, presumably someone had already hunted him down. All that he knew was that the attacker must have gone a while ago, and had just left him to die. It was already turning dark, luckily not too quickly. He might just have time to reach the meeting place and rest before it turned to night, it wasn’t far from his current location, but he was weak, and tired, and was hardly able to do a frail hop, let alone walk. Support, bind, tighten The words told to him by his mentor years ago, who said if anything were to happen to him, perhaps a suspicious tear in his leg which looked like it had been put through a grinder. Support. He saw a long log a couple of metres away from him, so painfully dragged himself towards it, just about reaching it. He propped it up under his left armpit, the bark dug into his skin and scraped the top few layers away, burning as it did, but he had to use something to support him as a walking stick. He slowly got into a standing position, keeping his left leg off the ground, he could just about stand. He fell back down onto the ground after assuring himself that he could walk with the stick. Bind. he found a few large leaves, and tied them tightly around his leg, almost crying out as he did so, and held them tight with vines. Tighten. He then covered it in amber from the oak trees, which would keep it all stuck together and to keep it continuously tight and fitted around its leg as he hobbled along. Hopefully it would help it to heal. He hadn’t really been taught how to make a decent cast, just the theory of it. Even Theodore could still tell it wasn’t very good, but it was the best he had. He could hopefully just about manage to get to the meeting place in his state. At least he hoped.

 

He considered blowing his hunting horn, but when he reached to get it from his belt, it had gone; the attacker must have taken it, probably to avoid him calling out for help and assistance. Made sense he guessed. At least it was a thorough attacker. Better than being bested by a novice. He continued to struggle up to the ceremonial meeting place, where the celebration of the start of another winter and another year of the treaty was to take place. At the end of the day, he wasn’t even sure that it was a human, maybe it was an animal attack for all he knew. But why would it leave him like this and manage to take his hunting horn. Positivity is the key, he told himself as he pushed the thought to the back of his mind. All he needed to focus on now was warning the clans. He had to get to the meeting point, before it was too late. Something bad was at work, Theodore could feel it.

 

**********

 

“It’s true. I found his dagger in Lakefur’s neck. You have to believe me.” Karaka shouted at Masua, who he had quickly caught up with.

“Matieer’s dagger was reported missing a few days ago. He swore he didn’t know where it was.” Masua replied. Masua was always calm, Karaka thought, he wondered if he ever got angry. A rustling in the trees above them got their attention. They both looked up to find Matieer perched in the trees. Matieer spat at Karaka before swinging down next to him. Matieer put his face close to Karaka’s, teeth bared,

“The hell were you doing in the tree?” Karaka shouted out,

“How dare you blame me for this” Matieer shouted, ignoring the quite reasonable question, spitting again in Karaka’s face as he did so. Matieer shoved Karaka hard into a tree,

“Spying is quite rude you know.” Karaka barked, both of them now furious,

“How. Dare. You.” Matieer shouted again, pushing Karaka onto the ground. He attempted to crawl away from Matieer, trying and failing to get up using a shiny oak tree, the tree’s smooth surface was too slippery. He fell to the ground again with a thud. “You dare blame me again, and you will pay.” Matieer kicked him in the stomach, along the mud.

“Come now Matieer, there must be a calmer way to go about this.” Karaka was sprawled on the floor, Matieer said nothing as he continued. Karaka winced as he was kicked again and again. “Matieer I am warning you.” Karaka held up his fore arms to protect his face, but Matieer didn’t listen and kicked Karaka back into the thorns and brambles around them. “Fuck this then.” Grabbing a leg from an incoming kick Karaka pulled it up, twisting Matieer to the floor. Pretty soon they were both covered in cuts and bruises. “Karaka.” Calmly whispered Masua. In response Karaka knelt defensively, no longer on the attack. Matieer didn’t take the hint, attempting to continue to kick Karaka. Matieer’s eyes were burning with rage and angry tears, as well as a bit of the demented craziness he had seen in him earlier, “Matieer. Matieer stop.” Masua said, louder.

“My best friend died today, I know he killed him, and all he can do is frame and blame me.” said Matieer loudly, stopping kicking Karaka and breathing heavily, turning his attention to Masua. Walking up to him, Matieer attempted to show dominance over the smaller male.

“Matieer, go, I will see you at camp. Go help prepare dinner.” Whispered Masua, Matieer stared at Masua. He was not a man to be messed with. He was not only a strong and a much respected fighter, but he was the clan leader. No matter how much he didn’t want to, Matieer had to respect him. He considered his options before backing down. With one last spit and dirty look at Karaka, Matieer walked away, muscles tensed, with his veins blue and bumpy against his skin.

 

Masua held out his hand to Karaka, who took it and with surprising strength for a man his age, Masua pulled Karaka up in a smooth motion from the ground. Karaka was bleeding in various places and around his body bruises started to appear, blue and green, yellow and red, every colour imaginable. Karaka wouldn’t let Masua see his pain, it would make him look weak to the person who was the closest he had to family. He would feel ashamed if this man saw his weakness. Karaka pushed his anger and pain deep down, and he made his facial expression blunt and unreadable. Masua surveyed Karaka, with his aged, but wise eyes that seemed to look right through Karaka, deep into his mind. It put Karaka on edge how well Masua could read him.

“Did you not think to stop him sooner? Intervene in someway?” Karaka spat,

“You have to grow up and start fighting back at some point. I’m not going to always be here to protect you. I don’t expect you to curl up into a ball and take a beating. I expected you to neutralise the situation before I would even have to step in.”

“I tried to go about a more peaceful resolution. You’d rather me get into a full on battle with him?”

“I’d rather you settle things in a more peaceful manner, but I also don’t expect you to show weakness in the face of an attacker. Having taught you to fight myself, I full well expected you to overcome an adversary such as Matieer with ease. Obviously I was mistaken.” Karaka spat blood out into the dirt. He was probably right. For all his overconfidence, Karaka doubted his ability to overcome even someone as reckless as Matieer. What use was Karaka if he just backed down so easily in a fight like that? Masua surveyed Karaka for a minute, allowing him to catch his breath. “If there’s anything else you need to tell me Karaka, anything, please do so. I may know more than what you take me for.” Masua whispered, before turning and walking away, hands behind his back. Karaka watched his until he disappeared, swallowed by the gloom and darkness of the forest. Finally he followed, heading back to the camp. He needed to rest, to run through things in his mind. To calm himself and relax.

 

**********

 

The blackness, it was too dark, it was compressing him, blocking of his airways, he couldn’t even let out a yelp. A laugh arose from the darkness, a laugh so bitter, so cold, it made him feel like his body was frozen, like it had turned into ice. The compression was getting worse. Everything was getting worse. The laughter was getting louder. Black ribbons knotted themselves around him, holding him tighter.

 

He awoke with a gasp. Karaka was sweating and his breathing fast, relieved to be able to breathe again. He had planned to rest his pounding and confused head, but now it felt worse than ever. Karaka had woken up to silence, not something that was usual around the camp. He got up and walked outside to see it was around midday, and the camp seemed to be deserted and empty. The landscape was pretty much completely vacant. In the run up to the celebrations, everything was usual done with a sense of urgency. Where was the rush? Where was the panic? In almost every year in the past that Karaka could remember, people were always seen running around, carrying all sorts of food and produce. Mothers were usually cleaning up their children, attempting to make them halfway presentable. This was a big deal for people. It was a chance to show themselves off, their cooking, their dancing, their singing, their musical talents, just generally themselves. Where there should have already been preparations for the grand feast, there were none. He wondered throughout the camp for a bit, wondering where everyone was. He headed to the outskirts of the camp, even to the areas which hadn’t been inhabited for a long time.

 

“Psst.” he heard a quiet voice whisper. “Over here.” the noise seemed to be coming from a bush. Karaka approached it with a bewildered expression. When he reached it, the voice called out again, “Oi. Down here.” Following that Karaka felt a sharp jab in his knee; he looked down to find the grinning face of his roommate, Takiar, who was holding a sharpened stick. He was wondering where about he was.

“Hey...?” he said, confused,

“Get down, there’s enough space for one more, no matter how big.” Karaka looked puzzled, Takiar, although known for his childish attitude and immaturity when it came for trying to prank fellow clanmates, was still not expected to be hidden in random bushes when no one else was around. Karaka shrugged before he crawled under the bush. It used to be quite a spacious hiding spot when they were younger, but now, of course, they had grown, so it was a tight squeeze. The branches and grass dug into his skin and irritated his elbows as he tried to prop himself up. He made sure he couldn’t be seen and tucked all his clothing in. “Where have you been?” Takiar asked

“What do you mean? Its only been a few hours.”

“You’re kidding right? It’s been like a day. Dude you sleep a lot.”

“What? I slept like halfway through the afternoon, how can I have had like a whole day of sleep without anyone even bothering to wake me?”

“Don’t ask me, I’ve got my own life to worry about. You must have broken a record or something though. Now get down and shut the hell up.”

“Why are we-” Karaka started before being cut off by Takiar,

“Right, listen, the foreseer has foreseen something evil etc...Same old, same old.” The foreseer was said to be able to see into the near future. She liked to preach that she could always see the true motives of a person. The extent of the truth behind that was probably a bit shaky. She lived on her own, spending her time coming up with a whole assortment of predictions. The only visitors she got were from visitors and confused clan members trying to find answers to a range of absurd questions. All of her known family had passed away so she was left lonely and she had just scared away any friends she had managed to hold on to, even the order of mages took a dislike to her.

“So wait...that crazy old lady that lives on the outside of the camp?”

“Well yeah, but anyway, she said that in a matter of minutes “darkness will walk through this camp, and we must be hidden until it has gone” I mean naturally anyone still around the camp just went hunting and buggered off, and the rest had already left for the celebrations. As far as I can gather were the last ones left in camp. Anyway, according to sources this is the area she thinks that stuff is going to go down. Not that anyone was really convinced that what she said will actually happen.” Takiar trailed off into a ramble as tuned out, remembering his dream. A shiver ran down his spine, he hid his discomfort as he said,

“Oh, great, I’m stuck here with you because of the ramblings of an insane woman” Karaka made as if he was just going to get up, but Takiar grabbed his arm,

“Come on man, let’s just be safe and check ok? Could at least get us a good story to tell.”

“Alright...” Karaka said, starting to get slightly suspicious, Takiar was not the type to usually be cautious or safe, let alone suspicious, “So is everyone away? What about Samil? She’s not exactly the best hunte-”

“I am here you know.” announced Samil, one of Karaka’s other closer friends, who popped up on the other side of Takiar,

“The hell did you come from?” Takiar exclaimed,

“Doesn’t matter, we’re safe here and it’s the time is almost upon us.”

“You believe it too? Why? Everything else she’s said has been a bit off. How did you even know we were here?”

“Erm...No offense but you weren’t particularly good hiders when you were younger.”

“Wait, how do you know” Karaka began to ask, but Samil placed her finger on Karaka's lips, and whispered,

“Shhhhhh” before realising what she was doing, and quickly withdrew her finger, with Takiar awkwardly clearing his throat from between them,

“So great. Not only am I stuck in a small, confined space with bloody Takiar, but I’m also stuck with you, who won’t even answer my questions?” Karaka attempted to break the awkwardness.

 “You should feel honoured to be in a small confined space with me.” Samil giggled, but they all fell silent when they felt a cold shiver going down their spines, which Karaka instantly recognised from before. Whatever this was, it had played some part in his dream.

 

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