Realm of Nightmares

This story takes place in Tesselen, a once-thriving civilisation now overrun by the terrible creatures known as Nightmares. Only one group of humans remains alive, hiding in tunnels and stealing what little food they can get from the surface in the shattered remains of Velar, once their homeland's proud capital.
But then something happens that changes everything.
Something that could lead to the end of their lives... or their salvation.

The two figures slipped silently through the empty streets, hugging the sides of the derelict buildings as they crept through the alleys. The night was eerily calm and only the moon, alone in the clouded sky, gave any light to the dirty broken pathways. All was motionless, not even an alley-cat stalked the byways. Eventually the figures stopped beside one of the hollow windowed buildings. The first collapsed against the wall, allowing his body to slide down the cracked stone wall before making contact with the ground. The second figure, smaller than the first, flopped down beside him.  The small one turned to his companion and whispered quietly:

“Why do we have to run so much, Silver? Surely we can afford to go slower now, nothing’s around here at this time, is there?”

The other man turned to him; a pair of pale grey eyes fixed on his face and studied him before replying:

“You can never afford to go slower here Spink.  People who go slower get killed.”

“But...”

A look from Silver silenced Spink’s questioning. He knew better than to argue. People who argued with Silver always lost. Instead he changed topic:

“It seems calm tonight. Nothing much around, just a few Spooks and a Creeper. Where do you reckon the big ones are?”

“No idea. I don’t think any of the patrols have seen any big ones for weeks. Best be careful though, we don’t want any nasty surprises.”

At “nasty surprises” Silver patted the massive sword at his hip, enjoying the comfort of the cold steel under his hand. Spink looked at it too, marvelling. Silver’s sword was exceptional. It was huge, even for a Nightblade, which were the largest and rarest of the sword categories. It’s wickedly sharp blade was tapered towards the middle, widening out again at the tip, a trait unique to the Nightblade structure. Its long hilt gave the user a choice of both single or double-hand use and the pommel was sharpened to a wicked point, a useful method of counterattack for anything that tried to slip under the blade.

Spink looked disdainfully at his own sword, a short and much used Greyblade that had been given to him by an older warrior when he grew out of it. It was a very basic instrument, with a flat blade and a simple hilt with a small red stone embedded in the pommel. There were numerous dents running along its length from all its numerous uses. Effective against most minor Nightmares, including Spooks, Creepers and even Screamers, it was a good weapon for a novice, even though it was pretty much useless against any larger, more formidable foes. As good a sword as it was, Spink longed to own one like Silver’s. Not only was it bigger and more ferocious looking, but it meant that its wielder was also a force to be reckoned with and gave the owner an air of power and mystery. Also, Spink wanted to take on bigger Nightmares, not just the ones you ran into on normal patrols. You needed a powerful weapon to take them on and his old Greyblade just wasn’t going to cut it there. No, he needed a better sword all right. He wanted to go and fight the Hunters and Rippers that stalked the dark places; he wanted to go out with Silver and the other elite fighters and come back to a hero’s welcome.

He wanted to prove that he was worthy of the honour and respect he so desperately wanted.

After getting their breath back for a few moments, Silver nudged Spink’s shoulder gently, signalling that they were going to move off again. Scrambling to his feet, Spink followed his companion as they twisted and turned through the dark streets. All around them the broken buildings stood like forlorn sentinels over the silent city. It was hard to believe that this empty, barren place had once been a busy city, filled with people from every race and creed, the streets jammed with market stalls selling everything you could think of. The sun had glinted off jewellery and sword blades, the hawkers’ cries had been constant as each tried to out-yell his neighbours and the scent of spices and cooking turned the air into a mind-blowing world of smells and aromas.

But that had been before the Chasm had opened and every Nightmare known to mankind had escaped into Velar, wreaking havoc in their path. Towns, citadels, fortresses and cites fell before the onslaught. When the great citadel at Yl’Raen fell, destroying the last of the resistance, the Nightmares had finally taken control of the realm. Most people had either been killed or fled. Now all that was left of Velar, or for that matter the whole world, was a hell filled with monstrous Nightmares and remnants of cities, eerie reminders of a time before the Break. The evil magic of the creatures had caused an end to daylight, now leaving only Twilight and Deep Night to govern the time of the world. All that remained of the time before the Break were a small group of people who had survived the fighting and had gone into hiding in the bowels of Velar’s vast network of tunnels and pipes, eking out a pitiful existence on the edge of their broken world. 

It was into this world that Spink and many others of his small clan had been born, a world where even the lighter hours of Twilight were fraught with danger and the Black Hour of Deep Night loomed as an ever constant threat to their lives. In the Black Hour the largest and most dangerous of the Nightmares emerged from their lairs and stalked the night, hunting and killing all that came into their path. No-one left the den during the Black Hour in case they attracted the attention of such monsters; such a mistake would lead not only to the demise of the clan, but to the end of the existence of humans in Tesselen altogether.

The End

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