The Gates of Twilight

Discussion in 'Original Stories' started by wiirkirbys, Mar 19, 2017 at 12:05 AM.

  1. wiirkirbys

    wiirkirbys New Member

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    Hiya. I'm Wiirkirbys, and I have started to write a book! ... kinda. It's really more of a teaser for a novel I may end up writing if you guys like it for whatever reason. I would greatly appreciate any feedback or input regarding this little story of mine, and maybe someday if it becomes popular enough I’ll actually write a full novel, of which this is only a small part. There are several characters and subplots I have ideas for already, and I was wondering if anyone for whatever insane reason would actually, you know, want to read it. So uh, have fun, I guess.
     
  2. wiirkirbys

    wiirkirbys New Member

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    The first thing she could remember was the blood. It covered everything; the floor, the walls, the ceiling. It covered her. The only color visible was a rich, satin red, and she could feel rivulets of blood oozing down her arms and legs in a way that seemed almost tender. The second thing she remembered was the corpses. Or, it would have been, if they could still be called that. They were simply shattered bone fragments sticking up out of the crimson lake, or small chunks of meat and flesh floating around. The third thing she remembered was the Girl. She stood in the middle of the carnage, painted red as everything else around Her. Her clothes, Her face, Her hair… everything except Her right pupil. But the pupil was not a human pupil. If one were to say that the pupil was white, they would be correct. But they could not be farther from the truth. It was a gash, a void, a hole in the fabric of reality that stripped away form and flesh to reveal the emptiness from which the world was born. It was looking straight at her. The only thing she remembered after that was Darkness.

    *******

    Luna kept running as if her life depended on it. Which it did, of course. There’s not much point in running for your life if your life isn’t in danger. And if Luna was caught, something far worse than death would await her. So she kept sprinting forward with all her might, dodging tree after tree as she raced through the rather dense forest near the border of the kingdom. In truth, Luna herself didn’t mind being caught if it was inevitable, but she would move Heaven and Hell to ensure that her sister wasn’t taken. Thinking of her sister, Luna glanced down at the small figure she held in her arms.

    Selene’s beautiful golden hair was flowing in the breeze from the dash through the forest, while her stunning sapphire blue eyes reflected the full moon hanging in the sky. Her pale skin had the barest hint of pink in it, seeming divine under the starlight. She was wearing a simple white dress, devoid of any decoration yet very well made and silky smooth to the touch. Her petite four-year-old form was the epitome of innocence. The only thing that ruined the image was the expression of absolute terror on her face.

    “Here! They’re over here!”

    Hearing a sharp crack behind her, followed by a shout, Luna glanced over her shoulder to see the flicker of torchlight and the unmistakable silhouette of a person, quickly followed by at least five more appearing when they heard the cry. She had been discovered. Knowing that their only hope for escape lied in pure speed, Luna charged forward directly at one of the massive trees that made up the forest. Without slowing, without the slightest bit of hesitation, she dashed forward until the bark was mere inches from Selene’s horrified face.

    The tree immediately exploded in a massive shower of fire and smoldering wood. As if it were a living thing, the fire reached out to every piece of vegetation nearby and lit it as well. Within moments, the fire consumed every tree in the small grove where the pursuers were. Their screams quickly rose into the night sky, pleading for release from their torment as their flesh baked and withered under the heat. As for the two girls they had been chasing, they had vanished deep into the night.

    *******

    Louiz Amphain gazed up into the night sky, as was his wont. He had loved the stars since he was but a lad, and he would often stay up late into the night to witness the majesty of the heavens. Of course, he wouldn’t do it just for his enjoyment (or so he claimed). As an accomplished magician and astrologian, Louiz was capable of deriving prophecies and omens from the stars. Contrary to popular belief, the art of astracognesis (as such a practice was known) actually had very little to do with the stars themselves. After all, there is no reason why events on a speck of dust floating in space would affect the movement of the very cosmos. No, astracognesis was based off of the atmosphere warping the view of the heavens from the planet of Psiana. Great events affected the world around them, and the atmosphere carried traces of such events to every corner of the world. Naturally, the closer an event was to the observer, the stronger the signs. One trained in astracognesis could discern the shift in the atmosphere from changes in the brightness of stars and planets, as well as how much they twinkled, how many stars were visible, the exact luminosity of the moon to fourteen decimal places, changes in pigmentation often invisible to the human eye, and a million other criteria that most people couldn’t care less about. Obviously, there weren’t many astrologians.

    Louiz, on the other hand, had miraculously managed to stay awake long enough during his university classes to pass his finals and become an above-average practitioner. And for him, the message the stars showed tonight could not be clearer. There was change coming. Change that had spawned from disaster and calamity, change that would shake the very foundations of the two rival Kingdoms of Lumens and Nyxt. The two countries maintained an extremely delicate balance one step away from open war, and any upsets could easily result in the fragile peace being shattered. What Louiz saw frightened him, but there was no mistaking it. He had seen the same message for the past fortnight.

    Louiz prayed with all his heart and soul that war would not come to pass, and if it did, it would stay away from his home. The chances were slim, he knew; the sleepy village of Temeran was a border town, and there for quite likely to be caught in the crossfire. However, it was quite far south and far enough from any strategic resources for Louiz to hope. Ever since he had moved to Temeran nearly eighty years ago, he had loved both the place and the people, and he would not allow their peaceful lives to be disturbed. More to the point, he was the village’s mage; It was his duty to defend them to his dying breath.

    With such thoughts racing through his mind, it took some time before Louiz noticed the red tinge on the southeastern sky. It was far too early for the sun to be rising, so with a slight feeling of apprehension he went into the backyard to take a closer look.

    The forest was burning.

    *******

    Out of breath, Louiz arrived near the magical wards that protected the town. He was the one maintaining the barrier, and he knew a mere forest fire couldn’t breach it. However, the color of the fire chilled his very soul. It was a deep, bloody red. Louiz may not be a pyromancer, but he knew what that meant: that fire was magical in nature, and judging by the color, it had already claimed a life. The color of magical fire varied by the person casting it and the amount of mana they injected into the spell, but that exact shade of red was only possible if an uncontrolled fire consumed blood. Louiz wasn’t actually that worried about the “claiming a life” part. He knew full well that it was likely some poor forest creature had been caught in the blaze and had perished. No, what terrified him was the “uncontrolled” part. Uncontrolled magical fire could only be put out by magic. Water or rain would not work, and the wind would simply spread it. It was also vastly more difficult to put out an uncontrolled fire than to create one, since uncontrolled fires tended to spread very, VERY quickly. Louiz quickly summoned his magic and was about to put the fire out before it grew too large when he noticed a dark shape moving towards him from the smoke.

    “Please… you have to help her…” The exhausted-sounding whisper cut through the thick air.

    “Who are you!?” said Louiz. Though he was a kind man by nature and instinctively wanted to help, it was simply too dangerous to leave the safety of the wards when an unknown figure was nearby. Louiz had long ago memorized the voices of everyone in town, and he knew that this figure was an outsider.

    The figure didn’t respond, moving forward until it reached the wards. It slowly reached out an arm, laying its hand against the barrier.

    “… Consume…” With a single word, a coiling darkness appeared around the arm and reached out to the wards. The wards responded by becoming briefly visible, a glowing golden dome encompassing the entire town of Temeran as well as a large region around it formed entirely out of multilayered symbols and runes, all interconnected by threads of light. Where the darkness touched the wards, the lights and symbol vanished, devoured by the swirling darkness and creating a meter-wide hole in the wards.

    Louiz felt cold sweat. Wards were notoriously hard to break, taking an extremely long time to set up but requiring at least four times as much power to shatter than it does to create. Louiz was an old man, true, but to puncture his wards with a single spell like that meant the person in front of him was at least twice as powerful as Louiz was in his prime. However, contrary to his expectations, the figure did not attack.

    “Take care of her…” with those words, the figure set down a small white bundle inside the wards and melted back into the darkness.

    Louiz cautiously approached the bundle as the wards repaired themselves. Casting several analysis spells, he could tell that it was a living creature, but not much else. Casting a simple defensive spell in case it attacked, Louiz cautiously unwrapped the bundle to find a small girl and a small locked jade box. The girl seemed to be asleep, and she was clutching a letter like it would fly off at any moment.

    *******

    Dear Selene,

    You must be mad at me right now. After all, I promised that everything would be okay. We would escape together and live in peace, just the two of us. I lied. I can’t raise you, Selene. I can’t teach you what you need to know or how to fulfill your dreams. I can’t give you the opportunity to live a normal life.

    As such, I have decided to bring you to a village I know of. It’s called Temeran, and it’s in the south near the border of Lumens and Nyxt. From what I know, it’s a peaceful place, and the people there lead simple but fulfilling lives. There’s a school there too, and I want you to attend when you’re older and try to make some friends, okay?

    I sincerely hope that you find someone who will take good care of care of you and treat you like a family member. It may seem overly optimistic, but I know it will come to pass. I want you to treat them well in turn and help out, okay? You’re a good girl, so I know you’ll be fine.

    Last but not least, I have a favor to ask of you. You may be angry at me for leaving you and disregard what I might ask, but… I want you to learn magic. They teach it in school as part of the basics, but I want you to take advanced classes as well and even seek out a mentor if you can. Nothing would make me happier than knowing you could protect yourself.

    I will leave a letter for you every other full moon at the place I brought you to the village.

    Your loving sister,

    Luna.

    P.S. It’s rude to read letters addressed to other people, Mr. Amphain. Yes, I know who you are, and yes, I know you’re reading my letter. I’m sorry for leaving a small child for you to find a home for, but I really had no choice. If there’s any way I can compensate you, please let me know.

    P.P.S. If either of you need to contact me for any reason, leave a letter for me outside the wards the new moon after I deliver one to you. I’ll be sure to pick it up. Oh, and there’s no point in trying to hide and wait for me there, Selene. I can’t talk to you in person for… various reasons.

    *******

    Louiz closed the door behind him and sighed. It had been a week since the incident, and he was exhausted. When Selene had first woken up and seen a stranger, she had immediately panicked and hid somewhere. Louiz eventually found her cowering under the floorboards of an empty room on the first floor, and it took him two full hours to convince her to come out and eat something. Even then, she was extremely nervous and refused to get near him. She had also adamantly refused that her sister had left her and kept screaming “NO!” and calling him a liar until Louiz managed to give her the letter by levitating it to her so she wouldn’t run from him. After that, Selene had withdrawn into a shell and didn’t talk much, simply spending her time in the empty room curled up into a ball. Louiz had decided to make that her room to avoid the hassle of convincing her to move.

    He would, of course, be taking care of her. He didn’t know why her sister had abandoned her or where her parents were, but the poor girl was clearly terrified of something and he wanted to help. He could have asked another family to raise her, but he felt like it would be better if he did it himself. It would avoid awkward questions that he had no answer to. Besides, he had always wanted to raise a child with his late wife, but they were never able to. Louiz was sure his wife Lillia would have wanted him to raise Selene as well.

    The question of Selene attending school was a bit more complicated. Children usually started school in the winter around Selene’s age, meaning that it would be about four months before she would be expected to attend. The problem was explaining where Selene had come from. Temeran may be a peaceful town, but there were still a couple of troublemakers paranoid about demons from Nyxt sneaking into the town disguised as children to spy on them. It was absolute nonsense, of course; There was no reason for a demonic spy to come to Temeran, and there was nothing they would find out if they did. But people would talk regardless. Many people viewed demons as evil incarnate and would come up with millions of reasons why a demon would come to Temeran, including everything from harvesting souls (which was both ridiculous and pointless, there is no difference whatsoever between animal and human souls so anyone who needed one could just step on an ant and be done with it) to there supposedly being the mythical tomb of the greatest necromancer to have ever lived secretly hidden under Temeran and being covertly watched over by a contingent of archmages disguised as villagers, and the demons want to take it over and learn the dark secrets contained within to destroy the world (according to the schoolteacher, during the only time she’s ever gotten drunk). As such, Louiz needed to come up with a legitimate pretext for a small girl with no family to show up out of nowhere and attend school.

    Another problem was Selene’s constant paranoia. Even after living with him for a week, she refused to get within three feet of Louiz no matter what he tried to entice her with. She even avoided him in her sleep, which was simultaneously impressive and disturbing. She also refused to go outside because she was afraid of “the bad people coming for her again”. Plus, she absolutely hated mirrors for some reason and would scream and run away anytime she saw one.

    The only thing Selene liked was magic. Every time he cast a small spell to help around the house or enchant an object, Selene would stare at it with glowing eyes until the spell ran out. Eventually, Louiz had managed to get her outside of the house earlier that day by telling her she could watch him heal a goat that was injured next door. Despite the destination only being about fifteen meters away, she shook the entire time and had bundled herself up in a cloak too big for her so only her mouth and chin was visible under the hood. However, when she saw the glowing light from Louiz’s healing spell, she smiled for the first time since Louiz had met her.

    In the end, Louiz decided to say she was the orphaned daughter of a family friend that had nowhere to live except for with him. Day after day, he baited her with magic to try and go outside and eventually even allow people to shake her hand, albeit very briefly. He also got her to open up a bit with her emotions, and now she smiled more often and talked more despite still seeming rather shy. Like that, the months passed and autumn turned to winter until the day came that Selene first attended school.

    *******

    -Twelve Years Later-

    “Bye, Selene! I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

    “Okay! Have a nice day, Ophelia!”

    Bidding goodbye to her friend, Selene quickly headed towards the edge of town, saying hello to the villagers as she went. She had grown a lot over the years, and was now a stunningly beautiful sixteen-year-old girl. She was about five feet seven inches tall, and her beautiful pale golden hair hung down to her waist. Her startlingly blue eyes and alabaster skin were the same as ever, but now she seemed to radiate warmth and kindness instead of being a rose that pricked anyone near her. She was wearing an emerald green dress and had what her friends called her “foxtail skirt” around her waist, which looked like nine foxtails the same color of her hair at the base and turning white at the tips, wrapping around her waist from the back and weaving together in the front to make an elegant-looking cage around her waist and legs. She always wore a hat as well, usually a white sunhat with several flowers on it. Her friends had asked many times why she always wore those to specific things, but she never responded and it was the only time they saw her got moody, so they dropped it.

    Selene was in an especially good mood today, as last night was the full moon where her sister left a letter for her. Selene had never understood why Luna couldn’t meet her in person and always avoided the topic in her letters, but she was still happy to be contacted her every other month. In truth, it had been so long that Selene had almost forgotten what her sister looked like. The only things she remembered were her long jet-black hair and her frightfully pale skin, seeming more like it should belong to a ghost or a specter than a person. Oh, and her eyes. Luna’s eyes are not the sort of thing someone forgets. Ever.

    Skipping along as she reached the edge of town and headed towards the wards, Selene soon reached the designated spot where she had built a mailbox specifically for her sister. It had taken her weeks until she got the spell she used to work, but it had the spectacular effect of the box being integrated straight into a nearby living tree. Happily taking out the black envelope inside (Luna had a rather morbid sense of humor), she closed the mailbox and skipped back home.

    “Grandpa, I’m hooome!” Selene yelled as she opened the door.

    “Welcome back, dear. Did you have a good day at school?” Louiz had been working in the arboretum he and Selene had planted together about four years ago. Hearing his granddaughter call for him, he got up and came to greet her while taking off his gloves.

    “Uh huh! My advanced spell formations teacher said that my spell theory of allelomorphic manipulation to simulate the rapid duplication and regeneration of stem cells without overly taxing the patient was incredible! The school nurse also made a joke that she used to think I would take over her position, but now she thinks I’m going to end up as the Head of LAODAH. …Why are you looking at me like that?”

    Louiz scratched his head. “I have no idea what any of that means.”

    “Oh. Good point. Um, I made a spell that could theoretically regrow a limb without the whole extreme pain thing. Just regular amounts of pain. Oh, and LAODAH is the Lumens Association of Doctors and Healers. It’s the group in charge of public hospitals and stuff.”

    “I see. Well then, congratulations! I’m certain you could become the Head of you tried. I’ve never met anyone better at healing magic than you. I’m glad you’ve decided to pursue it as a career. Speaking of learning magic, shouldn’t your sister have left a letter for you today?”

    “Yup! I’ve got it right here!” Selene took the envelope out of her pocket and showed it to her adopted grandfather before putting it back.

    “Black mail… your sister concerns me sometimes. I assume she still won’t meet with you? I see… Well, I’m sure she has her reasons. I’m honestly rather grateful she asked me to take care of you. If she hadn’t, I would have lost my chance at raising a wonderful granddaughter.”

    “Grandpa! You’re embarrassing me! … I wonder why she won’t though. She always dodges the issue when I ask her about it in my letters. This isn’t the time for that though, what would you like for dinner? I got this wonderful stir fry recipe last week, in case you’re interested!”

    *******

    - To Be Continued…? -
     

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