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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3. Chapter 1 - Outcast

Chapter 1 - OUTCAST

 

A breeze drifted through the cave, it echoed whispers off the walls and rattled dream catchers that were placed over them. Stronger winds rushed through the caves occasionally, sending wind chimes into frenzies, hitting the walls that were inked with ancient drawings and unknown languages. There was a man, who even in plain sight, being covered in deep blue robes made him seem to melt into the background of the caves around him. He wore thick furs around his shoulders and large, heavy boots that made a loud echoing noise when he moved. In front of him was a cowering figure, quivering slightly on one knee. The figure shook his head and silently whispered,

“Please, no, please, no.” Wisps of water vapour escaped his mouth as he continued to shiver from his cold surroundings, wearing nothing more than a few stretches of cloth that would be more fitting in a desert, not in a place as cold and as unforgiving as this. The figure shook his head as the seemingly warmer stood in front of him. He started talking in a deep and powerful voice that rung out of the caves and seemed to continue through the mountains.

“Lakefur Singh, of the Vulcan clan, you are here today for breaking the treaty first created by our ancient ancestors, and in turn, you have insulted both them, and your clan. This can only be followed by one course of action.” The man’s voice quivered, and in the small crowd that had appeared around them, a woman broke into tears and fell to leaning on the woman next to her, who patted her back sympathetically.

 

The first cries that arose came from Lakefur’s mother. The woman who had raised him. The woman who had stayed by his side no matter what, from his father’s death to his own death sentence. She had been through all until now. Now she had to stand by and watch her dear boy leave for good, see his face for the last time, for soon he would be gone, and possibly found dead. She was helpless, and because of this it had made her weak and weary, powerless. All light was loss from her life. A younger woman, stood back from the crowd, stared at the scene, her eyes glazed with tears and her face white. Her lips trembled and her shoulders were hung and slouched. Lakefur dared a quick glance at her, before staring to the ground, his once strong face that was often so empty of emotion was tormented; his lips trembling as tears grew in his eyes. The two women he loved the most had to be left behind forever. He took a sharp intake of breath and looked straight at the man who was condemning him to his death. The man cleared his throat quickly, and continued, “You are, by the power that has been put upon me by our ancestors, hereby banished from this clan, and any others that are included in our treaty. You will have 4 hours to go and make your way away from here. 4 hours until the hunt begins. Let this be a lesson to you and all those who dare to repeat your actions. 4 hours. May your soul be forgiven.” The man took Lakefur by his long plaited hair, drew out his short embellished dagger and cut out his lengthy streak of light blue. Lakefur stood up and nodded to the man who had banished him, who nodded back. Lakefur turned to his mother, opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but it got caught in his throat as his mother just nodded and looked down at the floor. He made his way towards the exit and when he had reached the path out of the city, he saw the amazing overview of all the land. It was truly beautiful, even with the scattering of dark clouds around him it was still just pure beauty. Lakefur couldn’t believe he hadn’t realised just how tranquil this place was. He took his last look before trying to piece his head together. Maybe he should just sit here for his 4 hours. It wouldn’t be a bad place to die. It was picturesque, peaceful, but still awfully cold. Maybe whoever was destined to kill him would do it quickly and as painlessly as possible. Yeah. It didn’t sound that bad, if you take out the part about dying of course. Maybe if he stayed in these sacred caves they wouldn’t harm him, after all it was an exceedingly ancient, traditional place, or some crap like that. Maybe they’ll refuse to kill him in somewhere as “special” as this. Lakefur had always found how dedicated the clans had to be to the treaty was too exaggerated. It was over the top. It controlled the whole of their lives. Everything that was done had to be done by the treaty. Yeah, maybe he would be safe there. No doubt it had been tried before however, but it would be even more fitting to die in the place where the ancestors had decided on setting the stupid laws in the first place. A young woman ran up behind him and took his hand.

“Don’t go.” She whispered,

“I don’t have a choice.” Lakefur cleared his throat,

“Then take me with you.” She pleaded,

“You know I can’t. I can’t risk you as well. You can’t help me. You know what will happen. You shouldn’t even be talking to me right now.”

“I know. If I am to be punished, let it be. There’s a better chance of survival with both of us.”

“I can’t risk it. Don’t you understand? This has to happen.”

“Not this again, I’ve told you it doesn’t have to be like this.”

“I’ve given my word.” Lakefur kissed her hand and quickly let go, running down the path carved into the mountain side so she couldn’t follow. She stood there; Limp and lifeless. She just watched as he ran. He was right. She didn’t want to accept it but he was right, it had to happen. She sighed and looked to the floor, as a single tear fell onto the ice. A woman shuffled out behind her without her noticing, she wrapped a fur coat around her to keep her warm.

“It’ll be fine love, come on then, let’s get you home.” The women had a hard grip on the girl’s shoulders, pushing her along back towards the ice caves the girl obliged without any fight.

 

Lakefur ran out of the ice caves, knowing when his time was up, the horn would sound, and the hunting would start. If they found him, he would be killed. He could no longer fight back, with the little supplies he doubted he’d last 2 days out there. No. Now was not the time for negativity. He had to get his mind in the game now that his friends, family, anyone, would have no choice but to attack him on sight. No matter who they were. For now he was allowed to run free, these hours may very well be his last. Again, his time for thinking and planning was over, now he had no choice but to run, get as far away as possible from any known camps. When that horn sounded, they would hunt him down. It would almost be like a competition to them, about who could find and slaughter him first. He had done this before, he had hunted people, but never did he imagine he would be the hunted one.

 

He’d been trying to plan what he would do since the very day the clan leaders sentenced him, how he would spend his last few hours. It was his entire fault really, he didn’t have anyone else to blame but himself, no matter how much he tried to reason with himself. What he did was wrong, stupid even. He got his head together, and checked his surroundings, he had ran further than he though, he could see the mountains he called home fairly far in the distance, ahead lay one where he knew no clan resided, maybe if he could scale it he may be able to reside in a cave and hide out for a while.

 

He heard a rustling in the trees above him, and instantly grabbed for his knife in his belt, but all he grabbed was the animal hide on his waist. He remembered with a jolt that the clan leader had taken these things away when he was declared ‘clanless’. The tree rustled again, and he looked towards the source of the noise, but nothing was there. He grabbed the only weapon he had left, a single arrow and a bow. He steadied the bow and arrow in his hand, running could come later. The horn had yet to be sound, they were too early. It couldn’t be time yet. It was an animal, it had to be; it was too early. He tensed up his muscles and crouched, listening carefully for a giveaway of where the noise was coming from. The rustling came nearer and nearer, closer and closer, it sounded like it was coming from all around, he span in confusion. Not yet, not yet. He wasn’t ready. The pit in his stomach grew. Something large jumped on him from above. He shouted out before his voice was cut off and his body fell to the ground. Now the imperfection in the scene wasn’t the mouldy leaves rotting on the ground, or the muddy puddles. They now seemed picturesque and beautiful, not messy and foul. The imperfection lay motionless on the wet ground, and as it laid there, a pool of red grew around the body, a bow and single arrow still in his hand. Dark ribbons sprouted from his chest and flew into the air, circling and dancing in the wind; somewhere in the distance a horn sounded.

 

 

**********

 

Today was the day of the hunt, not any old hunt, the outcast hunt. A cruel tradition that kept the clans inline, well, most anyway. The ones who dared to disobey the treaty were outcasted. No matter who, no matter the status. To disobey the treaty was to disobey the trust of all the clans, it was seen as dishonouring their ancestors. To be outcasted was the worst punishment, but it was always fitting to the crime.

 

The hunting horn sounded, and he was ready to hunt. This was the day he would get his revenge, as well as his pride back. Whatever happened today, Lakefur would get what he deserved. He would pay for what he had done. It was the little bit of light that came with the treaty, it kept people under wraps. Although at times it was controlling and strict, when it came to it, it worked.

 

**********

 

When the horn sounded, Karaka suddenly felt alive. Straight away he found his feet carrying him in a random direction, his bow at the ready. This wasn’t a usual hunt, not at all. He was going to get his own back. He would be the one to reach Lakefur first, he was going to kill him. Such a feeling of cruelty wasn’t one Karaka was used to, but here he made an exception. Since they had met, at the yearly celebration when they were both 11 winters old Lakefur had taken an instant dislike to Karaka. Lakefur was renowned as a bully, even before his father had passed. He still remembered how Lakefur looked and acted. He had always been taller than Karaka, in fairness most boys. It was his height that allowed him to be as brutish as he was.

 

It was a few years before Karaka had finally grown, and had overtaken Lakefur in height. In his 15th winter Lakefur and Karaka rekindled their feud. It was the first time Lakefur had been shorter than Karaka, who had to admit, pretty vainly he acknowledged, that he was quite pleased with himself with overtaking him. All the same, Lakefur was still stronger and still very broad for his age. Karaka however, still found himself faster, more agile and still very nimble.

 

He remembered how since then, the tormenting had started again, and as expected, it angered Karaka. He could still picture Lakefur's sly and sneering grin when he saw Karaka again. The fire lit his sniggering, sickly facial expressions. It was unbelievable how much Lakefur's facial features hadn’t changed, still rugged and ruthless, but now his hair was longer, and his nose slightly crooked. He just hoped that whoever had broken his nose had been someone that had stood up to him at last.

 

He wanted his revenge, Lakefur being declared clanless due to his attack of Karaka. Perhaps if it had been any one else attacked such extreme measures wouldn’t have been taken, but to attack the son of a clan leader was an offence that couldn’t be taken lightly when it could signal deeper unrest between clans. The only way to signify that the Vulcan clan didn’t share the same feelings Lakefur did was to declare him clanless, claiming that it was just Lakefur's hatred that had turned into an obsession. Karaka still wondered what he had done to deserve it. If the rest of his hunting party hadn’t found Karaka no doubt Lakefur would have killed him. Karaka paused to take a breather for a minute, looking at his bow clutched in his hand. He had found it the day after his father had abandoned him.

 

He had found it when looking in the forest for his father next to an old beech tree, with it a note saying “Sorry son.” It saddened Karaka that one of his only memories of his father was a note with just two words on it. He still remembered how he felt when he found it. He remembered looking down at the grass at his feet, red and wet. He had followed the scarlet trail that lead to his father’s body. Karaka cried out for what seemed like hours, only stopping when Masua Dean, the leader of the Otter clan came running. He remembered the sadness in Masua's eyes as he assessed the body, at its empty eyes and lifeless limps before he slowly turned his gaze to Karaka, who was crying and kneeling next to the body, pleading for his father to wake. It was then that Masua pulled Karaka up and dragged him away from his father, forcing him to walk. No matter how much he pleaded, he didn’t allow Karaka to turn back around. Clutching his bow to his chest, Karaka followed the path Masua forced him down. Karaka’s mother had passed away when he hadn’t even reached 1, a women whom he had never had the chance to know. That day Karaka had become an orphan. From then on Masua took steps to adopt him, his wife having passed away before bearing him his own child. The boy brought him back to life again, but knowing it wouldn’t be permitted if anyone knew of Karaka's true heritage, Masua hid the small boy, not allowing him to leave the confines of his room until he grew enough to not be recognisable as the abandoned child of Fantire. Although others may have had their suspicions, no one followed them up, and soon, the young exiled boy was forgotten.

 

From then on, Karaka was given a new name, a new identity, Shakir Lock was no more. When Masua had finally got back to the otter camp with Karaka, he had taken the blue stripe in Karaka’s hair, and died it dark brown, making him part of the otter clan. He was brought up by the otters like he was one of them. The large river they lived by became his home, and memories of his old clan were slowly forgotten. Slowly, scars healed. Karaka was taught how to make weaponry and clothing, then moved onto boats – the Otter clan’s speciality. By the time he had grown to 16 winters old, every day he went out fishing for food for the clan and to learn new skills. Although Karaka missed his life with the shark clan, he enjoyed and loved his new life. Despite this, he still spent winters looking for his father’s Shark clan, so much so he knew the island by heart. It was fruitless however, they had just disappeared. The only stories that Karaka could find were just ones stating that the clan had split up and vanished; they had just left the island, leaderless.

 

Karaka snapped back to reality as he saw something strange in the distance, thin black ribbons were spinning in the air. But it couldn’t be. It wasn’t possible. He ran towards the ribbons, always keeping track of it against the white sky, the trees and bushes almost parting for him. Surely someone else must be around, perhaps someone else who had seen the ribbons. Maybe even someone who knew what was going on.

 

As Karaka got nearer to the ribbons, which seemingly endlessly sprayed out of the ground, a pit of unease grew in his stomach. He took out his bow, notched an arrow into it and slowly and cautiously made his silent way further into the forest. This place, Karaka could recognize it, from somewhere far away. Something that was locked at the back of his mind, fighting to be free. Images flashed before his eyes as Karaka stumbled backwards, tripping over roots, until Karaka was crawling on the ground on his back. The memory broke through all at once; this was it, the place where his father had left him. Above, the black ribbons disappeared, they climbed higher and higher into the air, until they could no longer be seen, just black lines on the horizon.

 

Karaka sat against a large oak tree behind him, its trunk pale. Amongst the moss and dirt he sat with his knees tucked up into his chest. He looked round at the scene, tracing his fingers over the amber on the tree. Lumps of flies and ants were encased in its sticky tombs, he knew he recognised them. Everything was as it was back then, leaves sprawled on the ground, rotting. He steadied himself with a hand upon the tree. He shook his head. Memories were bad, but he had to keep on moving on. The location of the ribbons were close now. He looked up, but the ribbons had already gone, along with the sun which was sinking on the horizon, taking light and warmth with it.

 

Karaka kept on walking, to the place where he presumed was where the ribbons had come from. He saw it. The beech tree. Standing there, withering slightly. Words were carved into its trunk, messages of hope for his father, and what was this, messages to him? “Dear boy, may your father’s death never stunt what you are to become” How could this be. How can people know I’m still alive? He was sent out at such a young age, so little, no one could have guessed he would have survived. No one was meant to know, Masua said that his father kept to himself, no one would have known Karaka was Fantire’s son. Karaka shook his head. Is this where the ribbons wanted to take me?

 

Karaka felt a coldness running up his leg and surrounding his feet. He looked beneath him. Red. Red?

“No. No no. Not again. Not this again.” He muttered under his breath. Where is that from? He turned around and saw something on the ground, he was so immersed in the tree that he hadn’t fully taken in his surroundings. He knew that something was wrong. A cold shiver went up his spine, one of the most unpleasant feelings he had ever experienced. Lakefur was on the ground, face down in a blood soaked patch of mud. The grass seemed almost withered around him, surrounding branches looking crumbled and rotten. It was impossible. He knew this forest as well as his father did, maybe even better. He may not have remembered this place, but he had taken the quickest route from camp to here, using the ribbons as his destination. He had run as fast as he could. There wasn’t even a camp closer to here than the otter. No one could have beaten him. Surely if they had, they would have to have blown on their hunting horn, so people would know they would have found something. He blew his own horn.

 

Masua was the first to arrive, even for an older man, he still had the sprite and dexterity of someone half his age. He took a single look around the scene grabbed Karaka's wrist and through gritted teeth whispered,

“You have no relation to this place, you hear? You don’t let anyone think that you know where you are and what it means. You do not recognize this place, you hear?”

“Why not-” Karaka started,

“Don’t. You do not recognize this place. For once in your short life would you please do as I say?” Karaka gritted his own teeth, clenching his jaw and feeling his muscles tense. This was where his father died, couldn’t he show a little emotion? Masua knelt down next to the body and inspected it, as Karaka paced in a circle, kicking up leaves and mumbling darkly to himself. Masua blew his own horn, strong and deep, like its owner. In a matter of minutes the majority of the Otter clan had arrived. Everyone’s attention was turned towards the body, with the occasional dark look at Karaka.

“Karaka, now is the time to explain yourself.” said clan leader Masua, acting like nothing had happened before anyone had arrived. Karaka had thoughts racing through his head, he had never expected to be the one to find Lakefur, and even if he did, he didn’t know whether he would have it in him to kill him, despite everything that Lakefur had done to him. In fact, he knew he couldn’t have done it.

“I didn’t do anything. Listen to me-” Karaka replied loudly, his anger was growing from within,

“There is no time for listening, this man has been killed, from the looks of it with a dagger, attacked from above. Revenge, that’s not like you.” Karaka bared teeth at Masua,

“Yes but-”, Karaka tried to speak, but this time was interrupted by another voice,

“This was pure blooded murder. I think it’s time we accept that this too is something worthy of a clanless title. Lakefur was kicked out just for attacking Karaka. I think Karaka deserves that as well.” sneered a voice from the background, before the person who said it pushed his way to the front. It was Matieer, supposedly one of Lakefur's’ gang.

“You’re kidding right? I mean for starters it wouldn’t even been against the treaty at this point, and secondly I didn’t do it.” Karaka shouted, everything went silent, but slowly a muttering arose, whether mutters of support or disbelieve, Karaka didn’t know.

“All in favour of Karaka being declared clanless?” jeered Matieer, only his gang and a few others raised their hands. As Matieer looked around and his jeering face turned sour and disappointed at the lack of people joining him.

“Matieer you ought to watch yourself. You are acting like an immature and judgemental child. It is not for you to decide who becomes clanless.” Masua growled at him. Addressed the crowd he spoke loud and clear, “For example, all in favour of allowing Karaka to stay in the clan?” His voice boomed, echoing around the forest. Most of the clan members raised their hands. Matieer spat on the ground in front of the beech tree in spite, like he somehow knew what connection he had to Karaka, he gave Karaka one last glare before slumping away, signalling his friends to follow.

 

It was true that Karaka and Matieer didn’t get on very well, but they weren’t enemies. They didn’t talk much in camp or acknowledge each other, but still, Karaka felt betrayed. Even then, with that short exchange Karaka had looked into Matieer’s eyes to see the insane look Lakefur had when he attacked him. The crazed, dark look. Karaka felt another cold shiver running down his spine when Matieer gave him one last dirty look. Everyone eventually turned to leave, and wandered off in groups murmuring and muttering as they did, until eventually only Karaka was left with the corpse. He looked at the body one final time, assessing it properly. Was no one going to remove it? Karaka supposed Lakefur was only an outcast, but was surprised Matieer or one of his friends didn’t remove it. Karaka didn’t really want it to be in this place to be honest. He looked at Lakefur's neck, before noticing a glint of something shiny embedded in it, he pulled it out, almost dropping it in surprise. He tucked it in his skin pouch, and ran back to the camp, not looking back, thoughts racing through his mind.

 

**********

 

Sally heard the horn in the distance. It was extremely loud, from all the way from the forest. She supposed it had to be really, for a time like this. Something had been found, or someone. She listened closer to the sound. Sounded more like a water clan horn to her, most likely an otter horn. Maybe it wasn’t even anything to do with Lakefur. She bowed her head in sorrow as her heart throbbed. She had lost him. She knew it. It was done. Too late. She should have just gone with him. Maybe she could have helped, two is better than one. Even if it meant risking her life, she would do it, because it was him. She would have done it, if only he would ask. She was sure he would do the same for her, even though he always had a weird way of showing it. It wasn’t his fault; he had trouble letting people in. He had had a terrible childhood, full of torment especially after his father had died. He had done so well, looking after his mother and still learning his craft. Everyone thought she was mad, thinking he was a creep and a bully. He and his gang weren’t particularly well liked, but she had seen through his tough exterior and saw that inside he really wasn’t a bad guy, he had just taken a bit of time to break down.

 

She sat at the edge of the cliff, looking out over the landscape as Lakefur had once done. She drew her knees up to her chest, letting out a heavy sigh as she did. She pulled her cloak tighter around her. She really, truly didn’t know what it was about him. She wasn’t attracted to him for his looks, or that he was a “troubled boy” as her mother had once told her. She didn’t like him because he could take her on adventures and see the world, no, she just liked him for who he was. Yes, he was wrong to attack Karaka like that, he was bound to get caught and punished, but somewhere inside of him, there was a good guy. Sally knew that somewhere there must be. Karaka however, something intrigued her about him. He was different, seemed different, not like everyone else, like he belonged to another world entirely. But that wasn’t possible. Karaka had always struck her as a very confident man, if you could call 18 a man. He was over confident if you asked her, that’s probably what got him into trouble. She couldn’t imagine Lakefur attacking him for no reason.

 

She pondered once more, Karaka, admittedly, was quite a strikingly beautiful man, maybe even more so than Lakefur. His features were so strong and prominent, his jaw line looked like it could cut rocks. Oh and when he clenched his jaw, it was unbelievable about how amazing it suited his face. It made him look rugged, hard, powerful. She sighed. He was now vastly broader than when she had first seen him, a lot different to back when he was only 13 winters. He was a scrawny little boy, weak, and frail. It’s amazing what a few years can do to a person. He must have trained so hard to be how he is today, she thought, whereas Lakefur was always too lazy and immature to take anything seriously. Perhaps she even had an obsession with Karaka, different to Lakefur's hatred of him, more of an admiration and lusting way.

 

A breeze drifted over her, cold and dry, a shiver running down her spine. She ignored it and continued with her train of thought. Did she regret choosing Lakefur? No. of course not. He was the person who she actually knew. Not like she’d have a chance with Karaka regardless, he would barely cast an eye over someone like her. He was the adoptive son of a clan leader. Didn’t stop her imagining her by his side. There was always a chance, she supposed, after all she had never seen him be in a serious relationship. It wasn’t like him and she could have ever had one, firstly because she had Lakefur, and secondly because Samil and Theodore had already proven that long distance relationships didn’t really work out so well. She tried to divert her mind from sounding like an obsessive teenage girl. She sighed, and wondered what had become of her Lakefur, tears welled in her eyes again, she fought them back. He’s strong. He’s tough. But she still couldn’t believe the trouble he had gotten into. That’s what happens when you fall into the wrong crowd of people, you end up spiralling out of control. These people weren’t good news. Sally just hoped Lakefur didn’t get dragged too deep into this mess.

 

 

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