Darkness flowed from a crimson cup, kissing the rim of the golden bowl that held the secrets of old. Long, gnarled fingers stirred the contents of deadly spell that will grant him all that he desired, but at what price?
A hooded figure clothed in a fabric of silk and gold threaded into figures that only he can understand stood in front of the bowl as his fingers were coated in the poisonous mixture. He smiled to himself as he looked up at the broken window above his head as the light of the moon caressed the decaying stones of the once beautiful castle. Centuries of war and corruption have accelerated its death, creating the shell of a golden age that was tainted with dark magic.
The figure opened his mouth just as the moon touched the center of the sky. Out of the dark cavern of his soul came words that would fall on blissfully ignorant ears if a witness was there, for spoken in the voice of a man dying not in body but in soul was a chant meant to give life to a creature crafted from darkness and hate, a creature so terrifying that even the bravest man would become a child afraid of the dark.
As the voice of the hooded man raised above the towering ruins and to the blackening sky, as light blazed across the thundering clouds, the contents of the golden bowl began to hear the cries of hate of its creator and bend to his will as it rose to meet the rays of the moon like a man would his long lost lover. With every word called out by the hooded man, the movement in the bowl increased in size and soon strange features unlike anything seen on Earth took shape. As the unholy song drew to its merciful close a dark form appeared where the golden bowl and its contents once stood. The moment the final word was spoken, blazing fire surrounded the figure as it burned away the remnants of what little humanity the cursed souls who aided in its creation. Once every sign of life was turned to ash, the fire bathed the figure in its light before it took its place in the creature’s eyes. All that remained was a monster crafted from the darkest magic known to the world.
There stood a creature no man would ever wish to see. It stood higher than the tallest man in the nearby village, its claw like fingers curved with malice intent. Its eyes blazed with the fire of Hell as it looked onto the blackened soul of its creator. Behind the veil of darkness that covered the creature hid the features of a monster that would frighten armies of brazen soldiers and bring entire kingdoms to their knees.
The hooded man gazed transfixed as his years of searching created the seed that was planted in the soil of lies and bargains that have stained his soul and watered with the innocent blood and dying tears of his victims and given life by the light of the moon grew into the immortal plant that will bear the fruit of hate and give him the sweet nectar of revenge.
The creature stood before his creator as a slave would its master. Towering above the hooded man, he waited for his command.
“Do you know why you have been summoned here?” asked the hooded man.“To serve you,” spoke the creature with a voice that shook the heavens, “my lord”.
“Then there is nothing that you will not do for me?”
“There will never be a command that I will not perform, my lord.”
The hooded man smiled as he spoke the words that he waited decades to say.
“Then destroy the man who has wronged me.”
The mayor of the village was placed in the ground the next morning, a victim of fear and another man’s vengeance. There was not a single eye that day that was dry. He was a man who was loved by all except the man who he saved his wife from all those years ago. Now the poor widow was left alone and without her beloved’s protection as the child in her womb would live without a father and at the mercy of the monster who wanted her heart and his creation.
A girl of pale hair and colorless eyes wandered through the silent woods as the village mourned the loss of its beloved mistress, placed next to the man she loved. Not a word was spoken as the tears fell from their eyes and the darken thoughts flowed through their minds. The moment the creature of the night was created by the heartless man who stole their mayor and now his wife the family was cursed, or so they thought. Now all that was left was a child without her parents and a curse of her own. If the monster in the form of a man was not satisfied with the death of his enemy and his love, would the village stand?
As these thoughts clawed their way onto the lips of the village, the child stopped in the middle of the forest at the sound of another being came forward. The creature of the night looked on the child through veiled eyes of fire and darkness. Never before had it seen a human so small and fragile. Her blackened gown reminded it of the night it was born, a memory that would remain with the creature for all time.
“Who is there?” asked the child, despite her eyes resting on the creature itself.
“Do you not see me?” asked the creature.
“How can you not see what stands before you?”
“I am blind, sir. I cannot see anything.”
The creature made its way to the child until it stood inches away from her face.
“You cannot see me?”
“No, sir. Who are you, if I may ask? I have never heard your voice before.”
“I am the one who roams the earth, obeying no one but my master.”
“You are the one who the village thinks killed my mother?”
“You do not believe them?”
“My mother was ill, but not because of a curse. She lost all her strength giving life to me so many years ago.”
“But do you blame me for your father’s death?”
“You were merely following the orders of your master, as you said. You cannot do anything he does not allow you to do.”
“And your blindness?”
“I know not why I was not given the gift of sight, but it could not be your fault.”
“How do you know?”
“There is no reason for your master to wish me blind.”
“Why is it that you have no fear of me, child?”
“Because your master does not wish to harm me, for I am all that is left of my mother. And if you wished me dead, I would not be speaking with you.”
The creature extended its hand to graze the cheek of the child, which was received with her tiny hand resting on its darkened flesh. A strange magic flowed through the creature’s veins at the contact, one that left it feeling as if alive.
“Will you come and see me tonight?” asked the child. “The village will be searching for me and I will have the time to speak to you again once it is asleep.”
Years had passed and the village lay in wait for the man who cursed their village to make his presence known. But they knew not of his death at the hands of a sickness that plagued him since the summoning of his creation. Yet the creature still lived, and spoke of its master’s death only to the girl called Emily, the one who spoke to him as a child, now reaching womanhood.
“No one wishes to marry me,” she said to her companion one night as they rested near the lake in the forest. “But I do not mind. There is no one that I love who lives there.”
“Do you not wish to marry?”
“Only the one I love. Sadly, I’m afraid they will not let me be with him.”
The creature felt the sadness that tormented it the moment it first realized that he was in love with the blind girl. It feared that she would never love it in spite of knowing each other for years.
“Why is that, dear Emily?” asked the creature.
“Because they will think that I am a witch or beyond God’s salvation if they knew my heart belonged to you.”
Fire flickered from wooden torches as the village marched through their home. Cries of justice rang through the night as they made their way to the ruins that were the home of the creature they feared. They lied in fear for far too long. They refused to let another soul be stolen from the grace of God in Heaven because of the monster. It was time that its days on Earth would end.
Emily lay in her bed, tears of sorrow staining her eyes and pillow. Her beloved was about to be taken from her forever and there was nothing she could do. Someone from the village put something in her tea that kept her from rising from her bed, a precaution that kept her from following them. The villagers believed her soul would be saved and her eyes would see once the monster was killed, and they did not wish to sever the remaining link they had to their beloved mayor and his wife.
“Please God,” she prayed as her heart tore from the pain of never speaking to her love again, “do not let him die. There has to be a way for you to save him. I cannot go on without him by my side. He must have a heart or else he would not love me. Please, show him mercy.”
The wind blew through the open window, bringing a dark form with it. Standing beside Emily, the creature brought her to its chest and held her close, knowing that there was little time before the villagers realized it was not in the ruins.
“Emily,” it whispered in its love’s ear, “I cannot lose you. I cannot let them take you away from me. But I am afraid there is nothing to be done.”
“There must be something,” she cried as the veil that covered its monstrous form was stained with her tears. “They cannot kill you, can they?”
“If I can be killed, they do not know how. But once they realized your love for me, you will not survive their wrath. Even if my body cannot die, my heart will cease to exist if yours has stopped beating.”
“Then I will stay with you until it does.”
The creature felt her heart begin to slow, and he realized that they already knew. Whatever they gave Emily was slowly taking her away from him.
“No!” it cried from the depths of its soul. “No, it cannot end this way.”
“I wish that I could have stayed with you forever,” Emily spoke as her life reached its end, “but I am content with spending what little time I have on this Earth with you. Will you stay with me as I fall asleep, my love?”
“I will stay with you forever, my precious Emily. There is nothing that will keep me from you. I will rest by your side until the end of time itself, my love.”
As Emily’s eyes began to close, the creature that held her heart lay her down on the bed and wrapped its arms around her as the beating of his heart lulled her to sleep. The moment her life ended, the creature lay its life to eternal rest, never to be woken again.