The sound of closing doors echoed in the streets, windows creaked against the coming of the ocean winds. As the night crawled upon the town of Thrawndale, the people scurried into the safety of their homes. The torch lamps blazed brightly amongst the setting of the sun, intricately lined up near each house. Dusk was approaching, and quickly too.
That same day, near the black ocean, a shadowy figure appeared. It was a young man, young skinned. He had long black hair, trailing down to his neck, softly swirling in the wind. He wore tattered clothes, thin and spread apart, no fit for him at all. He shivered slightly, looking over the looming house in front of him.
“Come on Izuel, it’s getting dark, we must hurry.”
Aradel jumped up and grabbed onto a ledge of an abandoned house. Covered in black paint, the colour was clearly fading. It had 3 stories, each a window in sight. A ruined chimney lay atop the half-destroyed roof.
“Hold on!” Izuel grunted, “I am not as strong as you.”
Aradel smirked and lent him a hand, pulling up his lean hand on to the ledge. As they both climbed up the wooden platforms of each window; Aradel looked over to the vast ocean before him. It spread for miles on end. Its surface was a black void. You could not see into the waters. A jolt hit the inside of Aradels spine, so he ignored the ocean before him. He grabbed onto the rotten ledge below the open window; it creaked as a light breeze passed them. He peered into the dark room beyond. The moonlight sifted through the holes of the ruined roof. The smell of rotting wood penetrated the air around them. Cupping his hands together, he whispered an incantation “Illuminate” and then gave a single swift breath into his enclosed palms as an orb of white light realised. He let go of the orb as it levitated into the room beyond. Insects of all manners quickly scurried into any hole they could find.
Izuel frowned “I wish I could do that.”
Aradel was the first to climb into the room. Broken wooden chairs lay down in front of them, next to a rusted iron table. A couple of burned down drawers lay out across the room next to a mattress.
“Just like home, eh?” Aradel laughed.
“Yeah, right.” Izuel said, shifting his gaze to the side of the room.
“This place sure has seen its fair share of wear, there’s nothing left that is of use to us,” Izuel said.
A thunder stoke through the sky as they both jumped suddenly. Rain started to pour outside the house as the water made its way through the punctured roof.
“We need to get back, unless you like getting soaked.”Aradel smiled lightly, “Come on!” as he rushed for the window they came through.
They both carefully climbed back down the half broken ledges. The wet soil smeared against their bare feet, none flinched. As they both slowly made their way across the dirt road that lead out of the seashore. Soon, they approached a familiar setting. Lifeless streets lined up before them. Grey lampposts, with a square heads lined up the dim pathway. They approached the huge front doors. The building almost looked like a church. There was a bell tower on the left side of the roof and the front sign was wornbut you could still make out the name “Saffiando’s Home for Children”. Aradel released part of the shield with the same usual incantation, placing both of his palms on the wooden door.
“Release.” He whispered.
The first thing they would see when they entered would be the great main hall. The walls were dark red, intricately lined up with portraits of the past owners of the orphanage, famous or not, they all had their portraits painted and each time a new owner came to own the place it would always be an immediate family member.
Aradel walked up to the first portrait. He traced his fingers across the portrait. “Saffiando…your kindness gave us peace. I hope you are at rest.” He thought. His eyes half open.
Every portrait had a torch attached next to them on the wall. The torches were always lit, most likely from a very powerful incantation. The grand stairs spiralled up to the second floor, where the children would safely sleep in their beds. They both climbed up the huge winding stairs. The place having been built 200 years ago, has not decayed since. The paint was new and the wood was fresh. They both often wondered how, or what kept the orphanage in its perfect room, seeing as it was raided countless times by greedy thieves, hungry beasts, or just sorceresses looking for hidden knowledge in its huge library downstairs.
Aradel sat down on his ragged pillow, and stared onto the ceiling. Unexpectedly, Izuel jumped down next to him.
“Are you all right?”
Izuel gazed over his blue eyes and blank expression.
“Don’t worry about me. I was just thinking. Hoping we can survive through the upcoming eclipse...together.”
“As long as we’re together, we’ll make it. Your shield should hold. I know of it.”
He lightly touched Aradel on the shoulder, squeezing it. Izuels hands were warm. It reminded him of the nights all the children would speak their mind right here near the fireplace across the room. The warmth of the fire somehow lightened up the moment and conversations would just spark up. Each one’s fantasies and future intents would come to fruition, to be a knight, an enchanter, sometimes even just a plain old voyager. To travel the lands, see the sights; experience the different beasts that lurk within each forest, mountain or lake. To be brave, to not be afraid is what they truly wanted. Cowering in darkness all their life, these children knew nothing but the solitude of themselves, with the loss of their parents always a burden. Sometimes it was best to remember to forget.
“I am going to go get some fresh air, don’t go anywhere. I’ll be back soon.” Aradel said.
He tried to smile but could not, not even in front of his dearest friend. As he walked back outside amongst the dark streets, few living souls wandered in the early evenings before the Eclipse. Aradel lay down across an empty alley, breathing in the cool, fresh air. A breeze hovered in the sky and soon he was lost in thought once again.
Here in the orphanage of the children’s room, a young boy sat in his corner, every day of his life. Back and forth, he rocked himself, as if singing a lullaby. His face hunched up against his chest, his arms covering his head. The rest of the children shouted loudly, playing with each other. A man observed them. Wearing square glasses, he had white short hair, neatly tucked back. A well crafted mahogany pipe in his mouth, he puffed it rhythmically, smoke trailing from the bowl. Wearing red robes fit for a king. His name was Saffiando. He looked over the children from time to time, until eventually bringing his attention back to his book.
One of the children noticed the boy in the corner. He looked over for a moment before walking up to him. He extended his hand and said with an eager tone,
“Wanna play with us, Aradel?” his face giving out the most innocent smile.
Aradel slowly shifted from the safety of his darkness. He peered at the boy before him “Is he asking me?” He thought, trying to look to the sides to see if anybody else was there. Then out of nowhere, Aradel blurted out,
“Yes, you silly!” He jumped up and down. “Come and play with us,” as he grazed the back of his head.
Then slowly, a weak smile appeared on Aradel’s face. “O-okay!” Then with a brisk jump, he ran with his new friend to the other children.
“What’s your name, by the way?” Aradel asked.
As the child looked over to him, Aradel shifted his eyes away slightly.
“They call me Izuel.” As a grin appeared on his face.
Aradel never ever felt like this. He finally made a friend. In the years he has been here, no one has ever spoken to him. Izuel was also new but Aradel noticed, that he always had it easy, he was carefree, smiling at everyone and greeting them with a hop and a skip. As they both approached the other children, Izuel introduced him
“This is Aradel, he’s my new best friend, teehee!”
Everyone went silent, Aradel quickly grew uneasy, but soon one girl shouted,
“Hi Aradel, wanna play with us?” Aradel was overjoyed, and quickly joined the fray. A slight smile escaped Saffiando, as he quickly looked over the two boys, adjusting in his chair. So Aradel played with his new found friends for hours on end, as if in a dream, still not believing that it was happening to him, that finally he knows what it so to have, a friend.
Aradel was so deep in thought he had not realised the eclipse has begun. He widened his eyes as the distinct scream of a soul stealer has finally penetrated the cold area. Aradel swiftly stood up and there, he saw it. Sweat poured down his forehead. “Shit!” he thought. As he turned to look down the alleyway, a creeping wave of darkness crept in. A chill hit his spin, as his warm breath escaped him. The shadow had no face, just an oozing black smoke, almost like a robe, all around it. It pulsed every now and then, releasing grey smoke around it. It smelt the air, in quick bursts, searching for a soul. Suddenly, it stopped, turning it’s lifeless head to Aradel. It hovered there for seconds on end. Then it began, weaving from side to side, approaching its prey. Aradel froze in place. “Don’t move, don’t move, don’t move. Why me? Why me?!” he panicked. Izuel came from the other side of the alley, and shouted,
He looked over to him but could not get up, he tried moving his legs “Move..move damnit! He thought. The soul eater turned its attention to the noise, cracking its head to the right; it flew across the alley, and then right through Izuel. He fell down on his knees, his eyes rolled back completely, now only leaving white orbs with blood veins. His skin started to dry, and the body mangled like a piece of scrunched up paper. His knees gave out, as he fell, and then his body soon followed, his head smashing against the concrete. Silence took over the street. Tears poured down Aradels face. He screamed, as it quickly shifted its lifeless hood upon Aradel, so he froze in place, looking over its malformed shape. The deformed shade leaped, as Aradel with instinct swung his hands up. He dared not open his eyes, seconds slowed down to painful minutes.
After a while he could see something so bright, the light sifted through his eyelids. His chest tightened and he felt weightless. As he opened his eyes, his whole body was emanating a bright yellow light. The hands were blazing with hot white flames, and yet he did not feel any pain at all. Before realising, the shadow that he was now, somehow blocking out with his flames let out a white-hot screech, as a force of air came crashing down on Aradel. It was as if hot knives have penetrated his ears, a sound so loud; it made him fall to his knees and then finally his body hit the ground. Everything was blurred. I don’t want to die. He thought. The last thing he remembered was that a warm touch took a hold of him. It felt like he was rising up, to the skies. He let out a sigh; a faint smile traced over his face. Izuel…at least I will see you up there, soon... he thought. His vision blurred, the world around him finally began to fall in darkness, as his consciousness trickled away.