The Fourth Story of Darkness

No one spoke, but an abounding sense of horror filled the circle around the fire, which seemed to spark higher at the silence. One of the younger kids whimpered and scooted farther away from the storyteller, eyes wide. Another girl stifled a scream with her hand. The campleader glanced around, unperturbed.

A girl hidden in the shadows of a large pine tree spoke, her voice slicing through the night like a blade of steel.

"The blood of one can save the lives of many," she said, her dark eyes gazing right at the boy as he placed his glasses back on his nose. her skin was dark, and her hair was like a night that has been deprived of stars and moon.

Everyone's gaze settled on her.

"Long ago there was a man who was neither man nor beast, though all called him a man. he lived neither in generations past nor in days to come, but flitted to and fro in time like a swiftfooted shadow." Her voice rose and fell as she spoke, weaving something like a spell upon the people present. No one interrupted.

"He had no one but himself and the voices that tormented him, a troture that made his mind become unable to function and his heart unable to love." She paused, her black gaze staring into the fire.

"But on a day when time stood still and he could do nothing but wiat as the days of his life grew colder, a shaft of light that was not light fell upon his life, red like the light of the morning sun, but sharp like a sword filled with starlight. It's name was Raven." She stood at this, gazing up at the night sky.

"Raven became his companion, blocking out the voices that tormented him so, but at the same time sinking him deeper into the prison he had built for himself. His mind remained unsure, his heart still cold and hard, but he scarcely noticed, for Raven wove lies from its lips so his thoughts were banished. The manbeast was told many things, things that wove like dark shadows through his dreams while he slept. And time still stood still, but he continued to age." No one moved as she continued, their gazes fixed on the way her hands gestured to the sky, like pale spiders clutching at lost dreams.

"The manbeast began to believe the lies. That he was worthless, that he had no purpose, that it would be better if he had never been born. He was bid to die, bid to join the others without purpose, where he belonged. He did not understand that his purpose was a strong one, in fact he had long had half hidden thoughts that he was without worth, and Raven only strengthened them."

"So, when time once again began to turn, the manbeast threw himself off a cliff and into the jagged rocks below, but he found he could not die. Raven taunted him more, its words torturing him, just as the blood gushing from the gashes in his body pained him."

"The manbeast ran, every step torture, trying to die, injuring himself more, but unable to die, until Raven blocked his way. 'Let me tear out your heart,' it said, 'if you have one. Then maybe your life will be gone.' So the manbeast let Raven pin him to the ground. He realized his mistake ages to late, as claws ripped through his skin and tore out the stony pulsing light that had been his heart. And the land in which that man died, the time in which it happened, became the end of the world, a time that draws ever closer." Smoke rose from the fire and blurred the girl's body. When it had cleared, she was sitting once more in the shadow of the pine tree, her black eyes glinting with malice, as the listeners were sure Raven's eyes had when it had torn out the manbeast's heart.

The End

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