by vilian popov
Rey was sitting on the back seat of the car that had her close friend Yorden for a driver. Rey was looking through the window, but she couldn’t see a thing. Her state of blindness was giving her a mild depression as the ones she got when she thought about the fact that she would never see again.
“Is it the sight depression again?”, asked Yorden with a bitter note of sadness in his voice. He had met her right after she lost her sight and had been next to her for the last seven months.
Yorden was one of the wealthiest merchants in Rainfall and his creativity flowed infinitely. He had an endless number of friends ranging from poor villagers to wise magicians with loads of gold. It was the twenty-eighth of January when he met Rey and he could clearly remember every single detail of the moment he saw her for the first time.
She was standing right next to the building that had just exploded and was confusedly looking around – Rey couldn’t see, but didn’t realise that then. Yorden ran towards her to protect her, grabbed her by her jacket and right at the moment when he knew that girl was blind a tear both because of empathy and her stunning beauty fell from his eye.
“You have to get out of here, madam! You may get hurt!”, he shouted, but Rey couldn’t hear him. Then he grabbed her body and started running away from the burning building. Rey was unable to speak at that moment, but the only words that Yorden could read off her lips were: “You are a good person.” Ever since that day he had been looking after her, but recently an unknown feeling took over his soul. He had fallen in love.
It was a misty day in the middle of August and Yorden was certain about the actions he was about to take. He thought he had brilliant plans in mind… and he wasn’t wrong….
“Depression?”, asked Rey with a fake smile on her face, “No, I am used to it now. I am just tired. Today was a long and tiring day.”
Their journey was twenty minutes long and Rey and Yorden got back home. It was unusually chilly in the house, so Yorden told Rey: “Why don’t we sit on the couch while it gets warmer in here?”
Rey nodded and sat down on the couch. Yorden sat right behind her and hugged her carefully. She smiled. That was the first real smile on her face for the last seven months.
“Rey?”, he said. She looked at the direction of his voice, “I think I have a solution.”
“A solution? What solution?”
Yorden took his scarf off and carefully wrapped it around Rey’s neck.
“Focus.”, he told her with peace in his voice.
When she heard that she bursted laughing out loud.
“Do you not believe me, Rey?”, Yorden asked with surprise.
“Oh, of course I believe you, my dear.”, Rey answered with obvious irony in her voice, “Now I can see you. I can see that you are even more handsome than I imagined you were.”
That was the moment when her body turned into a misty cloud of shadow and appeared right behind the coach. It had taken a completely different form – she was a shadow with the seductive body of a woman. The only piece of clothing that was distinguishable on her body was Yorden’s scarf.
He tried to move, but the attempt remained unsuccessful. His heart was beating faster and faster with the seconds passing. He couldn’t realise what was happening to both his mind and body.
“Listen up, cutie.”, said the shadow wrapping her right arm around the good man’s throat. “You are really kind. But you are just as foolish as I thought you were. Remember… First, I was never blind. Second, my real name is Diyala. Third, you didn’t have to explain a thing about the scarf. I knew what it does.”
Yorden, who couldn’t free himself of the grip said vaguely: “Why?”
“It is all so simple. I needed the scarf. This… this was all my mission.”, an evil grim went through her face. “You are a good person, Yorden.”, she said and at that exact moment her arm transformed into a sword of shadow, cutting Yorden’s throat.
Diyala’s body turned into a cloud of misty shadow once again and disappeared.
“Did you get it?”, Diyala heard a deep voice coming from the darkness.
“I did. It took a bit longer than I expected, but you will finally have it.”, she answered. Then added with an ironical tone: “The noble Yorden and his magical scarf, everybody!”
She and the voice bursted out laughing villainously.
“I won’t have it, daughter.”, said the man after the long laughter.
“What do you mean?”
“You have done very well. You deserve it for yourself. Make as many wishes as you want.”
Diyala stood stunned by the words of her father. She didn’t expect that to happen. Ever. The scarf was going to be hers only. She could make any wish while she was wearing it and it would happen anyways. The scarf could give her all she wanted.
“I promise I wouldn’t let you down, father.”, she grimed.
Of course, there were possibilities, but the consequences… The consequences…
do you fear death
by georgi staykov
Strix put his callous fingers around the medallion hanging on his neck and gently stroke the back of it. The two crossed axes and the frozen volcano behind them were locked in the tight grip of his right hand. The thick material was white as ice and smooth as marble. The ornaments were carved and painted in blue, dark in-the-middle-of-a-storm sky blue. He clenched his fist and put the trinket under his armour. The two decades spent in the Mortis Alba legion back in Winterstorm had made him a fearless merciless soldier with an unyielding honour code. Strix glanced at the horizon for a couple of seconds. His rapid eye movement caught every detail in the surroundings. He was, slowly and meticulously, working out an escape route in his mind. The soldier took a deep breath and murmured a short sentence in Nixian, the language of his ancestors.
– Men cordias erit semper adtighi tu.
Emerald glow filled the air, and everything started spinning. Loud whirlwind noise disrupted the silence. Strix felt like he was inside a tornado, uncontrollably swirling in circles. Yet, his feet were firmly standing on the ground, having moved half a step backwards. In a couple of seconds, he found himself on his back, feeling shell-shocked, confused beyond imagination. Fear and amazement controlled him. Breathing heavily and not knowing what to expect, Strix looked around for his weapon but his two-handed legendary axe was nowhere to be found. A semi-long stick was lying a few metres away and he picked it up with lightning speed. The soldier took his usual defensive stance and cast an eye on the skyline. He saw a wild unknown world around and not a single soul nearby. Absolute silence. No animal sounds, no wind, no noise. Only the pounding of his heart in his ears. For the first time in his life he felt insecure about his own abilities. He couldn’t stay still and started walking, firmly holding the wooden stick in his grip, his hand muscles tightened, and his knuckles went white. Twenty metres into the new world he heard a cracking sound behind him. He swiftly turned around and with a quick beautiful motion lifted the wooden stick, as if it was a spear, at the level of his chest. He slightly bent his knees and waited for the source of the rumbling clamour to reveal itself. The only thing Strix was certain of was that he was a long way from home.
The warrior felt a damp cold touch. All goose-flesh, something touched his spine. He turned back and saw that he was knee-deep into a grey-white moving mass of thick air.
– Must be magic. – Strix whispered to himself.
The trees around him were piercing the sky and their crowns were not visible to the naked eye.
– You are in the land of eternal fog, stranger. – a loud squeaky voice violated the silence.
– Who’s there? Reveal your face!
– Ah, so you speak the common tongue. I heard you mumbling inarticulate sounds. Nixian I presume?
– You know my native language? – Strix said in disbelief.
– I know many things, iron soldier.
– Show yourself! – he cried out.
– You are in no position to give orders, white warrior. Stop moving unless you want that fog to be the last thing you feel. – the high-pitched voice was getting closer.
The fog rendered Strix’s eyesight useless, but the rest of his senses were heightened. They
hinted that the voice was not alone. He could feel the presence of others.
– A piece of advice for you, merchant. Don’t threaten me or unimaginable pain will be the last thing you feel. I can promise you that.
– Ha-ha-ha-ha! – ominous laughter echoed in the forest and encircled Strix.
The armour of a Winterstorm soldier had only one weak spot. A small gap on the back side of
the leg that allows the warrior to bend his knee when jumping for the signature and sinister air axe blow that was the most dangerous tool in the Winterstormian arsenal. Instant fulgurating pain made Strix scream. He looked down and saw the tip of a spear sticking out of his knee cap. A second later another blow forced a frightening screech out of him. Shortly after one more spear was now sticking out of his other leg.
– Strix stated calmly while trying to keep balance using the wooden stick as support.
Suddenly, the mist disappeared, and he saw dozens of armed men who were scary in numbers
but were nothing like the men he fought alongside in Mortis Alba. The white warrior’s legs were no longer holding the weight of his sinewy body and the heavy armour. He collapsed and his hands touched the wet green grass underneath.
– You seem to be lost, stranger. There are no volcanoes here, nor snowy blizzards. Tell me now: do you fear death?
At this very instant, Strix felt a third sharp metal tip piercing his body. His left hand started
bleeding and the drops were kissing the green below turning it dark red. Just as they appeared, the spears vanished. The Winterstorm warrior could feel his wounds still bleeding but the metal was gone.
– There is no excuse for you to be in this land. After the Phantom War we all agreed that we will stay away. You are trespassing, bringing trouble into our homes. You will not exit Rainfall. Stand up! – commanded the voice of the emerald creature.
Strix harnessed all the power he had left and stood up. His head was pounding but he was able
to distinguish the green silhouettes around him.
– Any last wishes? – asked the merchant.
The white warrior took a step forward and lifted his hand, grabbing the green figure by the
throat. His vision cleared and the one who found himself in Strix’s tight grip was gasping for breath.
– I will let you go if you tell me whether Flumen still lives. – said the Winterstorm war hero.
There was no time for an answer because Strix had missed one of the invisible figures and he
heard noise behind him. The time it took him to turn around was the time it took for the Rainforest poison-infused spear tip to penetrate Strix’s chest. His grip loosened and he fell on his bloody knees.
– No one will remember you, soldier. – replied the scared spiteful voice.
– We all have darkness inside us, but you lack the light, Rainforest scum. – said Strix.
As those words were leaving his lips, his eyes were slowly closing, and he entered a dream-
like state. He saw his life in Winterstorm and all his glorious moments in less than a second. Strix secretly ripped the leather holding his medallion around his neck and dropped it in the grass.
– There is something very important that… – continued Strix when another spear lacerated his skin and took him from this world. His eyes closed and he sunk into darkness.
– Leave his body and move out. Judging by the clouds in the distance we have no more than an hour. – said the Rainfall merchant, whose voice was now deep and assertive.
* * *
Strix opened his eyes and inhaled painfully, fighting for that first breath. At first, he could not
see where he was but he could recognise the void kingdom of eternal darkness from the fairytales his mother told him when he was a child. His eyes were dry, and he rubbed them in an unsuccessful attempt to clear his sight. Not a moment later, he saw a shadow leaning over. Its curved and crooked mouth opened and Strix felt coldness he had never felt before, not even in the farthest parts of Northern Winterstorm.
– So, tell me, winter soldier, do you fear death?
His pendant was hanging from the neck of the wraith.
by Borislav ignatov
This story goes way back in time when the planet was still flat and the colors were somewhat paler, not as vivid as we know them today. It happened long before the great Roman empire, the building of the pyramids and, according to some – even before the time dinosaurs roamed around (even though the last one is more of a conspiracy theory and less of a fact). At that time the world was hostile and dangerous – a dodgy place full of threats lurking behind every corner. It took quite the effort for one to simply keep himself alive.
According to the few chronicles that made it to our days (of course kept in total secret in some old dusty vault underground) there were only three realms that existed and ruled upon the Earth at that time. To the north there were the Iron soldiers of Winterstorm – harsh warriors who carved their civilization and beliefs out of sole ice. To the south there was the kingdom of Rainfall – a mysterious land full of sky-high trees, inhabited by cloaked sages and giant talking frogs, who kept recipes for magic potions in their bellies.
Everything else belonged to the void or the realm known as Duskland – a place of eternal, impenetrable darkness, where nameless shadow creatures, neither dead, nor alive, existed. This realm subsisted on its own, as if it was separated from everything else; it was a place where the common laws of physics did not function, a physical representation of chaos, madness and uncontrollable, thick emptiness.
Although not exactly in friendly terms, the three kingdoms managed to live in peace and some sort of uncertain balance for many years. The two realms of the living – Winterstorm and Rainfall – were prospering, developing new technologies and innovations in their architecture, agriculture and clothing. The shadow people, however, kept existing in the same static state of void where nothing really happens or moves in any direction. This is when the thin ice of peace finally broke – the creatures of Duskland got envious of the two other Kingdoms and attacked them aiming to assign all their accomplishments. The Great Shadow War had started.
It was a cool, fuzzy day in Leaf Garment – the capital of Rainfall. The air was filled with thick white fog and it looked as if some drunken god spilled a glass milk on the sky canvas. The flying fish were nesting in the tops of the trees, singing their bleak songs of unknown sorrow, waiting for the approaching rainstorm to materialize. All the sages and witches in the town were somewhat nervous like they were expecting that the rain will bring something bad with itself.
Florian stretched at the doorstep of his treehouse, staring at the white in front of him. He loved the fog – somewhere out there, hidden in this impenetrable cotton veil was everything that he ever knew and he ever loved; out there was the land that he was soon to inherit. His father – king Swampstain – was the ruler of Rainfall and throughout the thirty years of his reign, he ruled with an iron fist and unquestionable dignity. Now, when he was at the dawn of his life, he wanted to pass the power to his only son – Florian.
Even though he was 25 years old – certainly not a child anymore – Florian was nervous about the idea of taking the power from his father. Ruling over a country can be a lot of trouble, especially when at war with a whole bunch of ghastly, bloodthirsty shadow creatures. Nevertheless, this was all pre decided a long time ago and the coronation of the new king was planned to take place at dusk this very same day. Florian sighed – you cannot fight against your destiny, no matter how hard you try. He jumped off his tree into the milky mist under.
Despite the approaching rain, the center of the Town amongst the Swamps (as they called Leaf Garment) was rather busy. Merchants from all over the country traveled to the capital, hoping to sell their fabrics and goods; druids were offering blurry potions, claiming that they are able to heal everything, mystics were trying to sell their books, advertising eternal life and portals to otherworldly dimensions. It’s quite funny – Florian thought – even at times of war with such grim enemy like the Shadows, people are still willing to sell, buy and produce goods. Humans are a lot stronger than I’ve thought.
Before going to the ceremony’s preparation in the main building of his father’s castle, Florian had one last thing to do. He had to go to Schuh – the best blacksmith in Leaf Garment. Schuh had the task of crafting a ceremonial dagger for the young prince, who was soon to become the king of Rainfall. The blacksmith lived at the northern edge of town. The way to his house passed through the dryad’s district, where the infamous tree maidens were preparing diligently for the upcoming battles with Duskland. After that Florian passed near The 100 puddles area, where a small mushroom man asked him what the time was. The price, who had no watch with him at the time, guessed it was around noon.
When he finally reached the house of the blacksmith, Florian was already bursting with impatience and excitement. He could not wait to see Schuh’s work and how the special dagger turned out to be. Without knocking the young prince entered the house. The sky started dripping.
The anteroom was dusky and smelled like moldy moss. There were a few pairs of boots on the ground, all of them had tiny mushrooms growing on top of them. They reminded the young prince that he needs to fix the hole in his attic once he gets back home. Florian entered the living room, which was even darker than the hallway. At first, because of the rapid change in the light, he could not distinguish anything in the room. After a while however, he started recognizing the things around him. There was the working counter of the blacksmith, near it were the big pliers he used to bend the freshly heated iron with. Then, in the back Florian saw the big cabinet in which Schuh kept all his tools and crafting potions, as well as his collection of secret magazines that he famously had a subscription for. And right next to the cabinet, with his back towards the door, was the blacksmith himself. He stood there in the darkness like a silhouette – silent, motionless, apathetic.
“Hello? – said the young prince. – Schuh, it is me – Florian. I came to get the dagger.”
There was no answer. The room remained dreadfully silent. The rain outside started intensifying.
“Schuh – repeated the prince and a note of anxiety slipped in his voice. – Are you alright old man? Why are you not answering me?”
Then the blacksmith finally made a move. He started turning around, slowly and creaky, like an ancient door leading to the kingdom of the dead. He faced Florian and a semblance of a smile appeared on his pale old man’s face. The price trembled. What was once the blacksmith Schuh, the man who created the best weapons and armors in all Rainfall, was definitely not him anymore. The eyes of the man were pure black, a vile, black substance was leaking from the corners of his mouth. The thing held a beautiful dark dagger in his hand.
“Who are you? – shouted Florian in terror. – What are you?”
“Oh, me? – replied the creature with a shattered voice, who sounded like a little child and an old man at the same time. – I am no one. I’m one of the many, just the messenger, who needs to deliver a message to your father and all his people.”
“A message? What message!?”
“You will find soon enough, young prince. I promise it will not hurt…a lot.”
Shadows filled the entire room until it became fully opaque. Florian could not see anything around him, the thickness of the void was unbeatable. It was as if light never existed in this world – only pure, endless darkness. Suddenly Florian felt a sharp sting in the middle of his chest. It was short and he forgot about it instantly. He felt his body filling with emptiness, the gruesome nothing replacing all that he was until this moment. And then he was not anymore. He was one of them – he was nothing and he was all at the same time – the Messenger the warrior, the avenger, the King. His heart emptied itself from all emotions like someone pierced it with a tangy needle. Only one thing left – hatred for all that was not part of himself. His personal war against the light began.
by stela kostova
This is not just an ordinary story. This is Duskland.
Open your eyes and continue with your life. That is the motto that the shadows wake up every morning with. This is how it goes. When two shadows feel ready, they mix their past. A new shadow is born. Parents don’t choose their child’s name; the name chooses the person.
He’s name was Hellhound others called him Fuego. You will ask why. Here is why.
It was extraordinary long and dark day. The air was full of terror and the shadows felt extra confident in their skills. Fuego was outside waiting for his father for another training so that he could use weapons without the blink of an eye. His father came holding a dark camouflage bag full of knifes, guns and tiny blades that had to be attached to the end of the sleeves. Fuego’s father was famous among the shadows. He’s name was Dark and he was the most corrupted of all. Everyone was afraid of him, from WinterStorm and Rainfall to the shadows in Duskland. Without saying a word, father and son walked in the shadows. After a long walk they arrived – the perfect place where Fuego would be distracted only by the wind. Their figures were flying around like bird shadows, their movements were careful and quiet. The only sound was the sound of hitting blades and knifes; metal hitting metal, metal cutting flesh. This time the fight was more rough than normal and this time Fuego was winning. Blood was leaving spots on the cold ground. Suddenly thick fog surrounded the father and son, viciously fighting as it was a matter of life and death. Ravens started to squawk like they were betting for the winner. Blood was streaming down Dark’s nose. There were cuts and open wounds on his back. He knew that this will end up with death. He looked at his son’s eyes – they were not dark as they were before. A slightly burning red flame was making its way through the black eyes of Fuego. Dark thought that he was seeing things due to the huge amount of blood he was losing. Fuego was in a state of euphoria. He had never felt so superior to his father; he had never felt so strong. The blades, situated to Fuego’s jacket sleeves, were out. With one move he put his father on his knees. Fuego was looking at the most feared person in the world he’s ever known – his father, barely breathing. His hands moved in the form of X. Blood scattered the fog. Dark was lying on the ground, while Fuego was walking slowly from his body with blood streaming down from his hands. The ravens were squawking, calling Hellhound, Hellhound. The name echoed all around Duskland. Everyone knew that there was a new more powerful and more frightening shadow – his name was Hellhound. His eyes were glowing red just like his hands which were covered in his father’s blood.
A few years later.
Open your eyes and continue with your life.
A tall man was dressing up. He put his long sleeve blouse on, tucked it in his black jeans and reached out for his jacket. He stood in front of the mirror, brushed his teeth just like normal people do. He brushed his slick black hair back. His red eyes gazed into the mirror as he was ready to go to work. The only thing missing was his mask. Not an ordinary mask at all. It was a black mask with a tiny but still visible red line that runs across his mouth. In this way, even if you do not see his red eyes you will know that the most corrupted, evil murderer among the shadows in Duskland was standing in front of you. You will know that you are facing Hellhound.
His job was the darkest one possible. Even though, all shadows were corrupted killers, not everyone could guard the entrances of Duskland. Killing all the people that wanted to go through Duskland or most probably did not realize that they are there was Fuego’s favorite thing. He liked it and he took it as a sport. But he did not get to enjoy this every day. Most of the week, he had to work eighteen hours a day and the only thing he did is to roam around the border of Duskland, lighting cigarette after cigarette. It was boring but at the end of the work day he had the chance to enjoy himself. Today was of those boring days. Ten hours passed by and nobody made the effort to come and face his death.
In his free time, he liked gambling. Playing poker was the most famous game among the shadows. Eight more hours and he would enjoy a good game and maybe even win.
The work day was over. Fuego walked out of the border, thinking about the days when he would make more than thirty kills. He started the engine of his black motorbike and drove to the small devilish looking pub near his place. The black boots were heavily hitting the ground as if they were signalizing the arrival of Hellhound. He walked in the bar, ordered a glass of brandy without ice and sat on the poker table. The other players were just ordinary shadows hungry for fame or shadows that wanted to taste the adrenaline of playing poker with Hellhound. The game they played was the same as the one we all know but instead of betting money, shadows were betting people’s life. The worthiest of all was the life of a shadow. The game started. The players were betting life of people from WinterStorm or Rainfall. It was Fuego’s turn. – I am betting my mother’s life. – He was the man with the largest amount of murders in the country, everyone was afraid of him, even his mother. She did not want to see him after he killed his father. So, he decided that this bet will make everyone feel uncomfortable. And it worked. The shadows were uncertain about their next move and in the end Fuego won.
He now had the life of four people that he will take tonight. The first two were father and son of the shadows. They were not corrupted enough, nor practiced killing as often as Fuego liked. His steps echoed on street and everyone knew that he was there to kill. With one move he opened the door and saw the father and son standing in front of him, they knew that this was the end. The fear of the red-eyed devil had paralyzed them. – You are not going to fight? How boring. – Hellhound smiled and pulled out his knife.
The next one was a woman from WinterStorm, easy target. That was the reason why Fuego decided to leave her for tomorrow. During work he will just cross the border and kill her. This will make his day not that boring.
The last one was a guy named Storm. Fuego had never heard of him before, which made him think that he was a young boy. He jumped on his motorbike and drove down the east part of Duskland. The house was tiny and old as if it was from a horror movie. He took the stairs slowly and noisily. This time Hellhound wanted to play. – Let’s play a game. – Fuego whispered. He stepped slowly inside the house. – First clap. – he remembered the times when he played hide and seek with his mother. But this was long ago. A gentle clap was made from the far corner of the long and dark hallway. Fuego walked slowly contemplating whether to use his gun or his favorite blades. He reached the corner from where he heard the clap and there was nobody there. – Second clap. – it took ten minutes of wondering until he heard the second clap. Fuego moved towards the darkness; his red eyes were glowing like a little candle lights in the night. – Third clap. – he whispered with devilish smile. But he did not hear a clap. The only thing he felt was sharp pain in the side of his ribs. There was a kitchen knife in the left side of his stomach. – I like how you play. – he laughed and took out the kitchen knife. A little blood never hurt nobody, he thought. He walked slowly and whispered again – Third clap. – Seconds later he received the third clap. Fuego walked towards the living room.
There was a large tattooed man sitting in the armchair. He looked calm and on the verge of laughter he said: – So, you are the father slayer? Hellhound, right? – he smiled and welcomed Fuego to sit on the sofa. In his hand there was no weapon, just a bottle of beer. Fuego stepped carefully towards the sofa. – Yes, I am Hellhound. I won your life at a game of poker tonight and I have a huge desire to take it. – he smiled. The man called Storm was not surprised. He knew that even though he was bigger and heavier than Fuego, he will die tonight. – At least can I finish my beer? – Storm grinned at Fuego and gave him a bottle of whiskey. – I was told that you like this. – In his hand Fuego had a twelve-year-old brandy, the same one his father used to drink every night. He felt as if the feeling of guilt was making its way into his head. Cold sweat was running down his forehead. – You have ten minutes. I am not here to chill. – Fuego said while opening the whiskey bottle.
The clock was ticking and with every minute Hellhound felt more guilty and somehow sad. What in the name of death was this? He remembered the day he killed his father, how the ravens were calling his name, how powerful he felt in that moment. The sadness turned slowly into fury and the little flames in Fuego’s eyes turned into a massive and deadly firestorm. – Your time has come, Storm. – Fuego stood up. He had changed his mind about the blades. He was going to use a gun so that this ends faster and he can go home. He pulled out his gun and just as he was going to shoot, the man said: -Come on, kill me just like you killed your father. – he burst into laughter. Fuego felt like fire was coming through his skin. He pulled the trigger and the bullet went exactly between the eyes of Storm. He had never felt so much fury since the day his father died.
After this murder, Hellhound was not the same.
He walked out of the house with the bottle of brandy he was given. He lighted a cigarette and smiled because the only thing that was in his mind was “Open your eyes and continue with your life”.
by natalia rogova
Silence. I only hear my heart beating at miserably slow pace, as if it’s wondering whether returning back to its normal rhythm is even worth it. I’ve been told, when that’s the only hearable sound around, it means I’m either dying or just the other way around – escaped from death and coming back to consciousness.
Darkness. I only see reﬂections of my memories as vividly as if it’s all happening again right in front of my eyes and I’m no-one, but an indiﬀerent spectator unable to make a reverse turn back to his own life… and change his own destiny.
Emptiness. That obnoxious feeling solely burning my heart now when the only heritage of all I’ve ever known, loved, and fought for is ruins and cadavers.
Rainfall was a kingdom of rare, diversiﬁed nature and a home of agile, hardworking people. Its tall trees, eternal rainforests and fertile soils sheltered diligent craftsmen, knowledgeable scholars and witty merchants. Peace was the divine ruler of these lands, benevolence – the religion.
I spent the ﬁrst seventeen years of my life as a righteous inhabitant of Rainfall, living in a tiny wooden hut in the mid-forests with my father. He was respected and admired craftsman, known by anyone for his talent to turn simplicity into masterpiece. Since very young age I’d helped him with his works and as the years were passing by, I was learning the art of crafting, but most of all developing my own style and creating the unique signature of my work. I’d always known that one day I would be a craftsman too, and truly believed I’d make my father proud. I grew up being taught that the hard work might be a building block of each and every kind of achievement or success, but the genuine passion and sincere dedication coming deeply from my heart are the foundation.
Even though I used to hear those inspiring words pretty often, I truly realized their meaning at the age of ﬁfteen. It was just a day like any other – foggy and chilly outside, the rain was pouring loudly. My father came home unusually late that day, he was soaking and freezing, but his eyes were ﬁlled with warmth, excitement and hope. For the ﬁrst time in years, I saw such a glitter in those eyes and heard so much enthusiasm and pride in his voice. In his old, skilled hands he was holding a special gift that would have changed my life forever. With the help of other craftsmen and scholars, by combining mist essence and frog skin he had made a garment that absorbed wind and 1
Friday, November 22, 2019 rain. After many years, the perfect clothing for the people of Rainfall was ﬁnally created. They called it Mist Coat. The very ﬁrst one was gifted to me with my father’s blessing to keep me safe not only from the unpleasant whether conditions, but also from jealousy and cruelty.
The creation of this garment came as a long awaited gift for the people of our kingdom since it gave protection, ﬂexibility and freedom under the pouring rain and against the ﬁerce wind and thick fog. But as much as we thought of it as a gift, this garment provoked jealousy in envious and cruel creatures – inhabitants of a kingdom no-one knew anything about, but a name – Duskland. The shadows came as an unexpected, devastating storm and destroyed everything in their way – they killed the people, cut the trees, dried the rivers and enslaved the creators of our garments. Darkness, cold and fear took over the kingdom of eternal greenness. …
After coming back to consciousness, I now ﬁnd myself laying in the cold sand covered with dusty stains of dried blood. I don’t know how long it’s been after the war. Confusion, fear and helplessness are taking over me now. The though of opening my eyes is terrifying. What will I see, scattered debris? The debris of a glorious past which I will have to build my miserable future upon… But if I am scared, so I am alive. It might be luck or it might be destiny.
Surrounded by shadows and darkness, I am probably the last survivor of the people of Rainfall. The last one or one of the last? Why did I survive? Is it some invisible power, a ghost or a mystic energy, which chose to protect me or a power I have created myself? Countless, confusing, horrifying questions none of which I know the answer of.
One thing do I know for sure… I am a survivor of the kingdom of Rainfall and nothing, but revenge will be the cure for my hatred and anger. I swear in the memory of my dad and my people that if any other survivors are to be, I’ll ﬁnd and unite them in the name of what we once used to call our home. We will be nomads, ﬁghters and aspirants for revenge and one day the shadows’ disgrace will be our rise.
From all the ruins and debris left on these lands, I will build another kingdom. A kingdom made upon the wasted souls and ruined homes. A kingdom of the survivors, seeking for redemption to heal their souls. A kingdom that one day will bring the trees and forests of Rainfall to life again. But for now, I will call this Wasteland.
He opens his eyes.
by irina iric
In my entire life, I have never seen anything like this. These enormously tall shapes remind me of home in a way. They are almost as tall as the buildings where I’m from. They call them trees, right? I can feel life inside of them. I can hear them breathing. There is nothing alive here, beside them. We killed everyone. We butchered wives in front of their husbands and sons in front of their fathers. We eliminated them one by one, until the only life that was left here was the one inside of the trees. But it’s still more than what we have back home. That’s why I escaped. I couldn’t bare it anymore. It wasn’t the dark that bothered me, it was what existed inside of it. We call ourselves shadows for a reason. We are empty and shallow and all we do is devour other’s lights so we can exist. After all there is no shadow if there is no light. In the pitch black world that I lived in, I always felt like an outsider. It was as if I was the only one truly alive and everyone else just existed.
I can feel the light burning my exposed skin. I am not used to this. My cloak is covering my body and my mask is protecting part of my face, but my eyes are on fire and my hands feel as if I am touching that big shiny thing in the sky. The demon that we hide from. It isn’t that scary actually. I can even say it’s pretty. But tips of my fingers are turning black and I can’t catch a breath anymore. My body isn’t used to this.
There is no light. Was I dreaming? No, I wasn’t. I did escape. There is so much fog, it’s overwhelming and beautiful in a way, but I can bearly see my hands. My eyes are used to darkness, but not to the fog. I heard stories about my kind dying in these conditions. They would be left blind to wonder the Rainfall until they finally suffocated to death. That’s why we made masks, so the fog doesn’t infect our lungs. I can’t see where the trees are ending anymore. Everything is just blur. But what if I climb one of these?
I was climbing for hours, but it was worth it. The ends of these giants peeked out of the gray sea in such a majestic way. It was almost as I could hear them talk to me. They are standing strong even after the hell we brought to Rainfall. I can see lightnings in the distance. Electricity runs trough the air every time they hit something. I feel it in my bones. And with each lightning and thunder I feel as I’m becoming more alive. My blood is rushing trough my veins. I am mad. I am raging with anger. There is so much to experience outside of Duskland. All these years I watched the other world from the shore but I was too scared to ask about it. I have seen what happens to those who get unwanted ideas and those who ask uneccessary questions. No one ever dared to run away. Only hunters were allowed to leave. I can see why now. You need to be particularly ruthless not to appreciate this beauty, not to feel sorry for destroying it. I feel like I can stay here for million years. But there is so much to explore. I want to see the snow as well, and ice, and I want to feel the rain. I don’t know how long will it take me. but I know one thing for sure. I am never going back.