The Third Rising: Hoofdstuk 1

Een fantasy verhaal bestaande uit 50 hoofdstukken geschreven door mijzelf. Het verhaal is voor mij een ode aan alle films, strips en animaties die mij wisten te raken, dus verbaas je niet herkenbare dingen tegen te komen. Tegelijkertijd schop ik ook regelmatig tegen de clichés aan die teveel terug blijven komen en hoop er een wat originelere en realistischere alternatieven voor te hebben gegeven.

 

Alle hoofdstukken zijn in het engels, omdat ik op dat moment meer mensen kende die hierin geïnteresseerd waren die de Nederlandse taal niet beheersten. Ook omdat ik mijzelf wel beschouw als verhalen bedenker, maar niet als schrijver, heb ik schrijfster Sarah Parr gevraagd hoofdstuk 1 op haar wijze te laten herschrijven.

 

Bij deze  dus voor mensen die geïnteresseerd zijn in mijn verhaal: Hoofdstuk 1:

 

In another time, in a place where reality has a different set of rules for the inhabitants of the world, a string of fate is beginning to unravel. A cruel fate from era’s past is about to rear its head for the third time. This time its visage will be at its cruelest, in its most hideous form. One of the key players of the coming events is still blissfully unaware of what is to come. Ignorant of the choices that he will face, choices that, when the time comes, will change the fate of the world.

*******

Tamar crouched on the edge of the clearing. All his life he had lived in the deep North West forests, isolated from everything and everyone. Now at the age of fourteen he had finally ventured out into the wider world. He knew he should not be here, but now he had come this far, the sight of clustered tents and other clutter of the encampment was too much to resist. His brilliant blue eyes sparkled with excitement as he peered out from the cover of a dense shrub. What had first drawn him here was the smell of fresh baked bread, but the camp was alive with other exciting smells and sounds and sights too.
He left the safety of the bushes and slipped silently among the shadows. The sun was setting and dusk covered his movements. Tamar felt his heart drumming with adrenaline inside his chest. For the first time he would set eyes upon strangers. He had often wondered about the other peoples of the world, he would have loved to have spoken with these people. Had they lived, like him, in the forest all their lives or had they traveled the world, what wonders might they have seen? But despite his excitement, his desire to know, Tamar held back. Still, taking a look at these strangers couldn’t hurt, he thought to himself. He edged carefully around the tent.
The sight that met his eyes was more astonishing than he could ever have imagined. Several huge creatures were sat around a roaring fire with their backs to him. One was sharpening an axe that was the same height as Tamar. Another ripped hunks of raw meat off that looked like half of a Fallow deer buck. Its teeth were as big as the icicles that hung from the eaves in winter. Another was pouring a thick and yeasty smelling ale from a clay jar into a tankard that so big, Tamar could have bathed in it. Each of the creatures were dressed only in rags with an ill assortment of armor strapped here and there, to a shoulder or chest. One wore a horned helmet that was red with rust, at least Tamar hope it was rust.
Tamar was fascinated, it took several moments before he could tear his eyes away from these remarkable creatures. When he did, he remembered his reason for being there, the fresh bread. He raised his nose and sniffed, beyond the smell of woodsmoke and the ale, and the non too pleasant odor of the creatures themselves, he caught scent of it again. Slipping from shadow to shadow he made his way towards it. It was coming from a tent with a dark interior. Tamar slipped under the canvas door as swiftly as a breeze. Unseen behind him, a shadow moved.
As his eyes adjusted to the dim light inside a wonderful sight met Tamar’s eyes. Crates of food, root vegetables, sacks of flour, fruit and fish were piled all around the tent. There were also clay jars and cooking utensils, piles of cloth and even weapons. It was obviously a storage area.
Tamar took his bag from over his shoulder and began shoving food into it, starting with the still warm bread.
He was so preoccupied by his task that he only realized in the nick of time that something was wrong. He felt a breeze across his bare feet and the flicker of firelight briefly lit the dim interior as something came through the canvas door behind him. Instinctively he ducked, and the bright blade of a massive axe missed his head by a hairs breadth. He felt the rush of wind ripple his tousled brown hair as it passed over him. He rolled across the tent’s earthen floor and stood up.
“Wait, can’t we talk about…” But before he could finish the hulking bear-like monster answered with another swing of his axe. “I guess not.” Tamar mumbled as he dodged again. Grabbing up his bag he let out a wild yell and ran straight at the creature blocking the doorway. The beast was momentarily stunned by the youngsters bravado and Tamar took full advantage of the opportunity. He leapt straight at the monster, leap-frogging over it’s head. His hands pushed off from his foes helmet, pushing it firmly down over the monsters eyes. His trailing bag smacked the beast in the jaw. Tamar landed lightly and sprinted for the forest. Behind him he heard the monster yelling to his friends, he forced his limbs to move faster. ‘If I can just reach the forest, I’ll be safe,’ he thought to himself.
“There he is, after him.” Tamar heard the shout just as the bushes swallowed him. He didn’t stop running. His simple tan shirt and brown pants helped him blend into the vegetation, and the falling night makes him feel more secure. Behind him however he could still hear his pursuers, they were crashing through the forest now. ‘I better hide this one out.’ he thought, and looking around spotted a suitable hiding place. It was a small hole in the base of an enormous tree, surrounded by briars and nettles. Tamar pushed through them ignoring the stings and scratches from the thorns. He curled himself into the dark hole. ‘Good thing I’m short.’ he thought as he tried to get comfortable in the tight space.
Only moments after he was safely inside two of the monstrous creatures burst out of the trees nearby. Tamars whole body tensed, he could hear the blood pulsing through his body. Unconsciously he held his breath.
“D’you see anything?” one creature asked the other.
“Nah, little rat’s given us the slip!” growled the other. They moved off into the forest again and Tamar let out a huge sigh of relief. He was safe. He shifted in his dank hole to get more comfortable. ‘Better wait for a bit before I leave, just to be sure.’ he thought. When at last it has been several long minutes since he last heard any movement in the forest, and night has settled, heavy and impenetrable over the land, he finally unfolded himself from his hiding place. He stretched his cramped muscles and prepared to leave. Suddenly he froze, as a shadow darker than the night fell across him. Before he could turn around he felt himself being grabbed and lifted irresistibly from the ground. Tamar found himself level with the creatures crescent of glistening teeth. It’s eyes were narrow slits and it was grinning at him.
“Well, what have we here?” It hissed at him, sending a wave of foul smelling breath right into Tamars face.
“H…hello, smarter than average monster…” Tamar stammered, trying not to gag on the creatures disgusting breath. He could barely think as panic began to overwhelm him, but he pushed the feeling back. Panic wouldn’t help him now, anger rose up in it’s absence. How could he have been so easily fooled by this big brute of a monster? He quickly assessed his situation, glancing over his captor for signs of weakness. This creature is more lithe and slender than the others, but Tamar could see the muscle rippling under its ragged fur and had no doubt it could rip him limb from limb. Trying not to think of such things he focused again on the beast. It was carrying a huge spear in it’s other hand, if he managed to wriggle free and run for it, he could imagine the cold metal piecing his back before he was out of sight. The monster was wearing ill-fitting armor like the others had been, and that’s when Tamar found the weakness he had been looking for.
“N…nice armor…That doesn’t cover everything!” A moment of confusion fell over the monsters face, but it was shortly replaced by an expression of crippling pain as Tamar kicked as hard as he could at the beasts crotch. It howled and released him immediately, dropping it’s spear, bending double and protectively covering it’s injury with both hands. Tamar was running as soon as his feet hit the ground, he intended to be far away when the creature recovered. As he ran, the exhilaration of his close escape bubbled up inside him until it burst out. He laughed all the way home.

*******

“What were you thinking!” The huge ogre of a man was yelling at Tamar with such ferocity that he wondered if he might not have been safer with the monsters. He had thought he would be safe once he was back at the little stone and wood cabin where he had grown up. The monsters couldn’t follow him there due to the thick thatch of vines, brambles, nettles and other stinging and prickly plants that had been cultivated around the house. Tamar had not bargained on finding a monster already inside waiting for him. The monster was his father, Boran, a tall and broad man with long red hair and red beard. His face, at this point in time, was also beetroot red, with anger.
“I’ve warned you again and again!” Boran shouted, exasperation creeping into his voice. Tamar backed towards the door, hoping to escape until his father had calmed down, but Boran was fast and pinned Tamar against the wall so he couldn’t escape.
“But…I…I only took some food.” Tamar gasped out around his fathers choke hold.
“What’s going on?” A third, rather sleepy voice said. Boran’s anger evaporated instantly.
“Uh, nothing Kess, just playing with Tamar. Right Tamar?” Realizing he was still holding Tamar against the wall Boran released him and shot him a look as he did so.
“Right,” Tamar agreed hoarsely, “Just playing.” he grinned at his younger sister sheepishly.
Another, smaller figure peeped out from behind Kess’s legs.
“It’s OK Haico, they’re just playing.” Kess reassured her five year old brother. “I hoped you were having a fight,” She added glumly, “Nothing fun ever happens here.” She turned and steered Haico away, back to bed. Tamar exchanged looks with his father, then the tension between them broke and they both burst out laughing. Trust feisty young Kess to want to see a fight.

Later that night Tamar joined his father who was sitting brooding by the fire. He sat down quietly next to him. Without looking at his son, Boran began to speak.
“You can’t just do these things Tamar, it’s far too dangerous out there in the world.”
“But why?” Tamar asked, “I made it back unharmed and we could use the food.”
“Because I say so!” Boran burst out, his earlier anger rising again momentarily. He regretted it instantly and continued in a softer voice. “I wish your mother were here, she’d know how to make you understand.” he looked directly at his son, trying to impress on him the importance of what he was saying. “It’s just too dangerous, even for someone like me.” He paused and looked into the flickering flames, trying to find the words. “It’s just… like… the Gods have forsaken us.”
“What do you mean?” Tamar leaned in closer, he had never heard his father speak like this before.
“It’s like this world is filled with evil. We thought it was over, but we were so wrong. That’s why we’d kept ourselves hidden in the heart of this forest for all these years.” Boran’s voice was little more than a whisper now, Tamar strained to catch each word, though what his father said made no sense to him.
Boran sighed deeply as if he had reached a difficult decision. “You’re ready to hear about it now, you have been for a while, but I was so busy raising you and Kess and Haico after your mother died. And part of me didn’t want to tell you, even when you were old enough to hear. I suppose I thought I was protecting you, but now I see not telling you the truth will just endanger you.” Tamar felt a tingle of anticipation run through him. He knew he was about to hear something very important.
“Sixteen years ago I quit the army. I was fed up of war, crime and politics, I wanted, no, needed to get away and make a new start. Your mother and I left the city and traveled in search of a place to begin a new life. We found it here, in this immense forest, far from civilization. We built this house together. Life wasn’t easy but we were very happy here.” Boran smiled broadly at the memory. His eyes had a distant gleam as if he could see into that happy time in the past. “When your mother told me she was pregnant it was the best moment of my life.” Suddenly his expression changed, from joy to sadness, like the passing of a cloud across the sun. Painful memories filled his heart, but he knew he must continue, so that Tamar might understand.
“We were in the forest, looking for herbs to ease your mothers labour pains when the time came. Then stars began to rain down on us like fire from a clear blue sky. A fragment hit your mother, it was as if she was ablaze. I had been in the army, I had seen many terrible things, but nothing filled me with fear like the sight of your mother’s suffering. The fragments hit the earth and trees and animals all around us. Some turned into creatures the likes of which I had never seen in the forest before. Some ran off into the trees, but others saw us and came for us. I saw the gleam of hunger in their eyes and knew what I must do. I took my axe and when I was done the ground around us was littered with the slain bodies of those beasts. I went to your mother and saw that due to what happened she had gone into labour, so I moved her as fast as I could home. It was a tough and difficult delivery, but twenty four hours later, you were born.” Boran smiled through his sadness. The cocktail of emotions he was feeling brought a lump to his throat, he continued to speak with difficulty.
“As I held you, I remember that you seemed to have a bright aura.”
“Bright aura?” Tamar repeated in astonishment.
“ You were glowing as brightly as a thousand candles. I must have thanked the Gods at least a thousand times as both you and your mother seemed to be fine. She didn’t even bare any scars from the strange incident. For a while we forgot about what had happened, we were so happy enjoying family life. But there were unavoidable reminders. When I was in the forest I would see signs of the other creatures that had arisen that day, and sometimes catch glimpses of the beasts. themselves. We became more more cautious and never left our familiar part of the forest again. But we were fine here, we didn’t want to leave in any case. After some time your mother even got pregnant with your sister and our idyllic life seemed to have returned.”
“Seemed?” Tamar asked.
“Your mother became weaker over the years. She was good at hiding it, but I still noticed. And new dangers were lurking in the forest, I could feel the change in atmosphere. The birds and animals seemed afraid, they were silent and became scarce. I tried to be alert to anything that might threaten our life here. On top of all this you started doing things, extraordinary things that were far beyond what a boy your age should have been able to do. You were much stronger, faster and more agile.” Tamar’s confusion grew, he had always been fast and strong, he had never assumed it was out of the ordinary. He had known no other children other than his younger siblings his whole life, he’d had no comparison so why should he think any differently? Boran was still talking.
“I couldn’t explain it to you then, you were so young! And your baby sister did love to watch you show off, and you loved an audience.” Boran’s face stretched into a wide grin at the memories. “Do you remember that time you fell out of a tree?”
“Umm, vaguely!” Tamar answered.
“HA HA, well, you did land on your head!” Boran laughed, “Though at the time I didn’t laugh, my heart was in my mouth when I saw you fall. It must have been twenty feet! I rushed over to you, tearing my shirt for bandages, but when I looked for wounds there was not a scratch on you, you had already healed. I think seeing you sitting there crying but otherwise unhurt was the bigger shock for me. The expression on my face stopped you crying, you looked afraid. I couldn’t let you realise how different you were, so I bandaged your head so you wouldn’t know.”
Tamar subconsciously touched his forehead the bandanna used to be. ‘So that’s how I came to wear it’, he thought to himself.
“And before I knew it you were off on another perilous adventure.” Tamar grinned sheepishly at his father, he might not remember the fall from the tree, but he remembered many other incidents that had caused his father a lot of trouble and stress.
“It was that same day I saw smoke rising above the forest a short distance away.” Boran continued, his mood turning sombre again, “I had not been far from our house for some time so I had no idea what was happening in the world beyond. But I had my suspicions, and my fears. I wanted to ignore that smoke, to turn away, but I knew I must go and investigate for the safety of my family. That day is a day I will never forget though I wish I could erase it from my mind. The things I saw sickened me. The horrors I witnessed twisted my heart with grief” Boran’s face paled in the firelight and it was a moment before he could continue. “I saw the beasts, those monsters that had risen from the rain of fire, they had built the camp that you saw today. It seemed they had evolved at an accelerated rate during the years since their creation, but only to a level of barbarity. I watched then ripping raw flesh from the bone. It was a moment before I realised it was human flesh. Then I saw how they had decorated the camp, and themselves. There were severed heads, animal and human, bone’s and teeth hung round their necks and they had painted their faces in the bright red blood of their latest kill. We had been so lucky to have avoided the ravenous destruction of those creatures, so many others who had taken refuge in the forest were not so fortunate. I knew it was only a matter of time until our luck ran out. But I had a plan to keep us safe. I ran back immediately and found the seeds a friend of mine had once given me. No ordinary seeds, they would grow into plants unlike any other in the forest and protect this precious little bubble of happiness we had created.”
“You’re talking about the devil plants!” Said Tamar.
“ Yes! I remember I laughed when they were given me, I never imagined that I would ever need to use them. But now I’m so glad I had them, within days they had grown to form a protective wall all around us. The thorns and spores kept everything out and kept us safe within for all these years.” The thick wall of vegetation had been present for over half of Tamar’s life. He had never thought to question why it was there, and only recently had he begun to wonder what lay beyond.
“I never told your mother.” Boran continued, “She never went further than the garden any more, she was too weak so she never saw the wall hidden in the forest just beyond. She eventually told me about her illness and I did not want to add to her troubles by telling her about the danger that lay in wait all around us. The sickness cost her her life in the end, but at least her remaining time was free of other worries. You probably remember, she passed away just after Haico was born. Those were the darkest days of my life. Pain and happiness so close together.” Boran covered his face with shaking hands as the feelings welled up in him again. “I’m sorry, I was never able to…” Boran looked up, his face streaked with tears, at the sound of the door thumping closed. Tamar was gone.

Tamar couldn’t stand it any longer, his emotions were overwhelming him. It felt like he was drowning, he felt so much guilt. If his mother had not been pregnant with him she would not have been out so deep in the forest that day when the stars rained down. How much his father had suffered since then, how much she must have suffered, and it was all his fault. ‘How can my father stand to look at me after all the suffering I’ve caused?’ Tamar wondered. Tamar began to run. He leapt over the protective wall of devil plants without even thinking, needing the darkness of the forest to swallow him up.

*******

The monster flicked out its forked tongue and smelled the air, slit-like eyes peered into the dark forest all around, alert for signs of movement.
“Stupid kid, we coulda been feasting, but noooo we gotta tramp all over this stinkin forest n find him.” The monster’s companion grumbled, scratching at a spot where his armour chaffed. Flecks of drool flew with every word the shaggy red-haired creature spoke.
“Shut up Rumzu!” Hissed the lizard monster, his hand flexed round the haft of his spear as his eyes tracked something in the deep undergrowth. Moments later he let the spear fly. It struck it’s target, the two monsters heard the sound of ripping flesh as it penetrated.
“You got him Wendor!” Rumzu yelled jubilantly. Wendor was already stalking forwards to retrieve his prey. Rumzu caught up with him as he stood over his catch.
“HA!” Barked Rumzu, “Yeah you sure got him. HAHA! Nasty deer on a stick!” Wendor turned and threw a punch straight at his hairy companion catching him hard on the end of his long snout. Rumzu staggered back a pace.
“You just lost your share of the meat.” Wendor hissed at his companion in an unfriendly manner. Rumzu recovered himself and began moving forward, his hackles raised, teeth bared. After the frustrations of the night he was ready for a fight. But something caught his attention, a flicker of movement in the corner of his eye.
“There, it’s the kid!” Wendor turned cautiously, wondering if Rumzu was just tricking him in order to take advantage. But he saw it too, and smelt it, it was definitely the boy.
“Is he hopping from tree to tree?” Rumzu wondered aloud as they both tracked the boy’s movements.
“Who cares, lets just get him!” Wendor hissed, yanking his spear free from the dead deer. They moved off leaving the deer forgotten in the undergrowth.

Unaware of his danger Tamar continued through the forest. He came to a clearing with old stone ruins in it, all overgrown, being reclaimed by the forest. He felt strange, he had thought it was just the shock of hearing his father’s story, but now he realised it was something more than that. The emotions were ripping him apart inside. ‘Mom, it’s my fault. No! It’s the fault of those monsters!’ His mind whirled as the thoughts raced through him. Flames seem to erupt from all over his body, cocooning him in a writhing aura.
“Why did you have to die mom? I’ll make them pay! They will die!” He was shouting now, shouting out to the world all the anger and hatred he felt. He was full to the brim of it, he felt like he would explode if he didn’t release it. He fell to his knees slamming his fists into the earth. The ground rippled like water beneath them, then cracks spread out from the impact and dust rose into the air. Tamar looked down at his fists, shocked by the enormity of his power.
“What’s happening to me?” But he barely had time to wonder as energy ripped through his body with sudden and enormous force. The strength of the mysterious energy was such that Tamar found himself lifted into the air, and held there by it. Now his whole body was emitting a blindingly bright pulsating light. With every pulse a shock wave of energy emanated from him sending dust and leaves and stones in every direction.
Inside Tamar felt filled with wonderful ecstasy, but it was a dark kind of feeling, dangerous and forbidden. Voices inside his mind were all clamouring for his attention, yelling, screaming at him until he felt sick.
‘Cold!’ ‘Be part of it…’ ‘Help it’ ‘Rising’ ‘Carnage’ ‘Death’ ‘Join it’ ‘Unleash it!’
The words flowed seamlessly on like some twisted mantra.
“W what, NO!” He tried to block them but they were too strong for him. Then Images began to flash in his head. None of them made any sense. He saw a man, he’s performing some kind of ritual, summoning something. But the ritual is being disturbed and it seems the man has been betrayed. There is a fight, the man is wounded and he loses control over the partly summoned creature. Then all is black for a moment, followed by a flash of a deformed smiling face and then the darkness turns to glaring white light as a fortress explodes.
Tamar’s limp body fell to the ground. The pulsating energy gone, the final burst of power had rendered him unconscious.

Wendor and Rumzu stopped short in their pursuit of Tamar. Red flames burst above the trees ahead of them and the trees bent and rattled as if in a fierce storm as a shock wave passed over them.
“Isn’t that were the kid was going?” Rumzu asked unable to hide the uncertainty in his voice. To his relief Wendor seemed equally uneasy.
“I don’t like this,” Wendor said tasting the air with a flicker of his forked tongue, “Let’s get the others.”
In the dense foliage of the trees above, dark eyes watched as the two beasts turned and retraced their steps. As soon as it was safe Boran jumped down from the tree and ran towards the source of the energy burst.
“Dammit, I had hoped he was old enough to handle what I told him. And there is so much more he must know!” A trail of light was still visible in the night sky, guiding him to his son. “That’ll guide those monsters back to him too.” Boran grumbled as he raced on towards the beacon. “I’ve got to hurry. Two I can handle, but if they bring others…” he broke off voicing his worries as he burst into the clearing where Tamar lay motionless on the ground.
“What happened here?” he wondered aloud shocked by the extent of the destruction. He moved quickly across the ruined ground and knelt beside Tamar. “Tamar? Get up son! We have to go!”
The energy blast that struck Boran was so unexpected he didn’t even have time to see where it came from. His limp body was thrown across the clearing, stopping only when it struck a tree. Unconsciousness claimed him instantly.
Minutes might have passed, or it might have been hours before Boran’s eyes slid painfully open again. He was surrounded, the monsters were there, not just the two he had overheard in the forest, but all that lived at the camp. The one that seems to be their captain was standing directly before him, the still limp Tamar held in one large clawed hand. The beast towered over Boran, eight feet tall at least, and covered in dark green scales. His eyes a cruel red.
“What’s going on.” Boran groaned, sitting up slowly.
“Nice of you to join the party, we’re playing ‘skin the little thief’.” The reptilian growled at him, baring rows and rows of sharp interlocking teeth in a frightening parody of a smile.
“No! He’s just a boy, take me instead.” Boran begged. The beasts around him laugh cruelly, Boran was pushed roughly from behind. His face met the dirt floor with such force he heard his nose crack… They pulled him roughly upright again, blood covered his face.
“Are you telling me what to do?” The captain roared, “But maybe I will allow you to watch, how about that?”
“You monster!” Boran cried out, launching himself towards the creature. The two behind pulled him back. He was punished harshly for his daring. Tamar stirred at the sound of his fathers cries of pain.
“Dad?” He looked at the bloodied pulp that was his father and felt anger rise in him. He struggled in the captain’s grip, but to no avail, the beasts hold was too strong. The monster held him up before its face. “Can’t wait for your punishment can you?” he swung Tamar round and hurled him into the stone ruins in the centre of the clearing. The boy vanished behind the rubble.
“No, how could you!” Boran screamed. He struggled to run to his son but was held firm by his captors.
“Hey, I’m not totally insensitive, I’ll even throw in a free tombstone.” The monster grabbed up the largest stone he could find and threw it after Tamar.
“TAMAR!”
“Don’t worry, you’ll meet him again soon enough.” Grinned the captain. Boran fell to his knees and stopped struggling. He was outnumbered, bloodied and he could barely move. He was broken. Two of the creatures pulled him roughly back on his feet.
“He can’t be… dead?” tears welled in Boran’s eyes.
Suddenly one of the monsters who was restraining him fell away. Then the other one also released him. Boran looked around wildly, wondering what was happening now, surely they weren’t letting him go. Then he saw his captors lying on the ground, both had had their skulls caved in. A few feet away lay the two bloodied boulders that had done the damage. The monsters seemed as confused as Boran, the captain was spinning round wildly. “Who dares to interfere?” His eyes settled on the apparition that had arisen from the rubble where Tamar had fallen.
“What? NO! It can’t be you!” The captain stumbled back a few paces. The apparition rose higher above the rubble, dust and stone falling away from it. It was Tamar. His body was dark and only his glowing eyes were distinguishable from the silhouette. Around him the energy aura had returned, brilliant red flames rippled all about him. He was moving very slowly, but with an air of menace that was so strong that it left all present with no doubt of his intentions. To kill.
“Destroy him!” screamed the captain. Hesitatingly the monsters raised their weapons, then with wild yells they ran forward as one to attack. The first two to reach Tamar leapt for him, but with astonishing speed and strength the boy plucked them from the air. Their heads met with a sickening crunch and shattered like eggshells. Lifeless, Tamar dropped the bodies to the floor. The other monsters faltered for a moment in their attack.
“Get him you cowards!” shouted the captain, as he backed away towards the trees. His troops surged forwards once more.
“HA HAA! YES! Give them pain! Make them suffer!” Tamar’s voice was filled with his greed for violence. Claws of energy extend from his hands and he met his foes with them, slashing clean through armour and scales, leather and bone. Creature after creature fell before him. Finally one of the beasts managed to breach his defences, its sword slashed deeply across Tamar’s face. The beasts ceased their attack, amazed to have finally landed a blow.
“Gotcha! How sweet your blood tastes!” The monster licked Tamar’s blood from i’s hand where it had split down over the swords hilt. But its smile faded as it watched Tamar, standing motionless before it. The boy’s face healed before its eyes. Bone and sinew, muscle and skin quickly knitted back to form an unblemished face. An evil grin spread across that face.
“N no!” Stammered the beast. Then Tamar vanished in front of the monsters eyes. “Where did he…”
“Psst” Tamar whispered in the monsters ear, but the beast didn’t even have time to turn round before it felt itself being ripped apart from behind. The remaining monsters backed away from the small boy who stood drenched in the blood of their fellows. They are too afraid to continue the attack and the captain knew they are on the verge of breaking and running.
“You idiots, attack him from a distance!” he yelled, becoming frustrated by the way the fight was going. His troops regrouped and obeyed. Spears, arrows and knives flew towards Tamar, who remained motionless. At the last moment he leapt and twisted and flipped, evading each projectile with ease. He moved with such speed he was a blur, and before they realised it, he was among his attackers. Bones broke like twigs and he threw enemies four times his size as if they were nothing more than rag dolls. Finally there was only one monster left. The captain, skulking in the shadows near the edge of the clearing. Tamar advanced towards the creature.
“One left, take it slow, make it’s suffering into an art.” His manner betrayed his feelings. The captain sighed deeply, then stepped out from under the trees shadows.
“Oh my, what a pleasant sight!” The captain observed surveying the carnage Tamar has wrought. “I haven’t seen destruction like this since… well.” he paused thoughtfully, then continued on a different tack, “You’re just like him you know, perhaps you could even be his son!” Tamar didn’t respond but continued moving slowly towards the captain. “It’s been a while since I had to do this, so let’s make it worthwhile eh!” The captain closed his eyes and braced himself. His muscles ripple and began to swell, his claws extend, bones lengthen and thicken with audible cracks under his skin. Flesh and scales grew to cover the monsters transforming body. The captain roared with pain but there is glee in his eyes. Only when he was triple his original size did the transformation stop. All traces of his humanoid form have left him, his body is long and sinewy, his jaws extended like a crocodile. Huge talons punctuate the powerful legs and his long flexible tail is tipped by razor sharp looking spikes.
“What do you think?” The captain asked spreading his arms wide as if he were showing off a new suit. Tamar rushed the beast in an explosion of speed. His mysterious lust for blood driving him forward.
“Rage! Kill! Crush! Break! Destroy!” the words flow out of him subconsciously. The captain was driven back by the ferocity of Tamar’s attack. It’s as if he had not transformed at all. As blow after blow falls upon him without pause to break into the attack, the captain became more and more afraid.
“DIE, DIE, DIE,DIE, DIE!” Tamar screamed as he stamped on the now fallen monster. Warm blood splashed all around and onto Tamar’s skin, he relished the feeling. Suddenly he stops his assault, he senses something, but it’s too late by the time he realises what it is. The captain’s tail sweeps round and sends Tamar sprawling to the ground. Tamar sprang back to his feet, but the monster had bought itself enough time to get up. His scales shone with wet blood and he clutched at his arm which was obviously dislocated. Tamar stands and stares at him malevolently.
“Although I’m clearly no match for you, I’m glad I got to test myself against you.” The captain gasped the words through his pain. “I never expected to see another person like Farrow here, someone filled with such a pure form of darkness like he had. So come on, finish it! Kill me with all the rage you’ve got!”
For the first time, Tamar to hesitated. The captain’s words penetrated the fog of rage inside him. He looked down at himself and the sight of the blood disgusted him now. He looked up at the battered beast before him for answers. The captain stared at him and looked as confused as Tamar felt.
“What’s, where am I?” He received no answer from the beast, only a vicious back hand that sent him flying.
“What luck! I don’t know what happened kid, but I’m not the kinda guy to miss an opportunity to take the advantage!” He stepped forward to finish the boy once and for all. “See you in hell!”
“I think not!” Boran cried out as he leapt at the captain. He wielded a huge axe which cleaved through the beasts head as if it were a melon. Tamar watched the body of the huge monster fall as if in slow motion, then his father was standing over him, speaking to him, but Tamar couldn’t take it all in. Last thing that hold his attention was an ominous glow that seemed to be coming from the axe, but eventually he let unconsciousness claim him.
“It’s over now son, let’s go home.” Boran murmured to him as he lifted Tamar’s limp body from the carnage.

*******

“Tamar, what’s going on?” Boran looked down at his boy laying unconscious in his bed. It had been hours now since the battle in the forest and Tamar had still not regained consciousness. The boy was sweating and his skin seemed to radiated a strange glow. Boran sat beside his son, unable to help, racked with worry. It seemed Tamar’s battle was not yet over.

~~~~

“Where am I?” Tamar looked around but could see nothing, only blinding whiteness stretching away into infinity.
“We are inside you.” Tamar glanced around looking for the source of the voice. But there was nothing, except, yes, now he could see something. It seemed to be a flickering light, orange-yellow against the whiteness, like a flame. It danced about him.
“Inside me? Who is ‘we’? Who are you?” Tamar directed his barrage of questions at the flickering flame.
“So many questions my young friend, but do you really want to hear the answers?” The flame seemed to mock him. “Take a look at these images, they are all connected to you.”
Images flickered into life all around him. Some showed the fight with the Captain and his minions.
Others he remembered seeing when the strange power had awakened in him. And there were many other immages too, all overwhelming him, things he did not recognize yet which seemed horribly familiar at the same time. The images faded and only the flame remained once more.
“That was just a sample!” The voice taunted.
“What do you mean? I don’t know anything about this stuff!”
“Oh, but you do! I know all about you, I have been here ever since you were born. You know this, deep down, so don’t deny it!” The flame blinked out of existence leaving Tamar alone in the nothingness.
“What, where are you? What are you?”
“You know the answer to that.” Tamar spun round, trying to locate the voice. He jumped in alarm to see someone standing behind him now. No, not someone, himself. It’s a mirror. But the reflection wasn’t right. His skin is black and red flames are bursting from him. His eyes are lit with an unearthly light. The mirror body ripples and shimmers like liquid.
“This, this can’t be!”
“But it can! I already tasted the blood dripping from your fingers. Remember killing those monsters, didn’t that feel good?” The reflection’s dark face split showing a white grin of gleaming sharp teeth.
“LIAR!” Tamar hurled his fist into the mirror, his grinning reflection shattered into a hundred pieces. He then hears the other laughing at him.
“You can’t get rid of me that easily. I’m everywhere you look. I’m your shadow, your other half. And now your rage has set me free, I can finally claim what’s mine!” Tamar’s other self stood before him, connected to him by his shadow, darkness touching dark. Then the darkness reached up for him. It flowed over his body like oil. Cold, heavy and all consuming, filling him with horror and loneliness.
“No! Let go! You can’t have me!”
“Struggle all you want. You are already mine!”
Tamar’s cries were smothered, his struggles grew feebler and feebler. He felt all hope drain from him with the last of his strength and gave it up to the darkness.

“Leave the kid alone!” Unheard by Tamar another voice was broke the whiteness.
“Who? You! No!” The shadow creature shivered and cowered at the voice.
“Leave!” It commanded.
“No!” The shadow blanched but stood its ground.
A white shining light appeared, brighter even than the nothingness. Then the light formed itself into a shape. It was hard to make out in the brightness but it appeared to be an old man in a long robe. He had a long white beard and a tall staff. The light seemed to be coming from the staff. The shadow shied away from its brilliance. As the man approached the dark creature shrank back as if the light hurt it leaving Tamar huddled on the ground.
“YEEAAARGGHHH! I will return!” The shadow cried out in rage at the moment it was finally banished.

Tamar stirred. He felt cold and stiff, as if he had been through a long illness. Yet he felt warmth on his skin now and strength returned to him quickly. He looked about and saw the old man standing nearby watching him, there is no sign of the dark creature.
“It’s gone?”
“No, it will never be gone. It is a part of you.”
“Part of me? So it was telling the truth?”
“It is a part of every living being, but the balance is gone, darkness is trying to take over.” The old man raised his staff and an image of the world appeared before them. One part was dark, the other light, in equal measure. But then as he watched Tamar saw the darkness flowing over the light just as it had flowed over him.
“Around the time you were born, darkness spread across the world in its purest form.”
“Like the thing that struck my mother?”
“Yes, but somehow the unborn child inside her absorbed most of the energy. But being just a baby, the darkness could not infect you. Somehow it was sealed up inside of you. But now you have come of age and that seal is beginning to break apart. Already it has tasted freedom, it will try to do so again, and keep on trying without end. I have managed to weaken it for now. It will be some time before it can try again. You must learn to contain him, contain that power! Now, show me your hands.” Mystified Tamar held out his hands. The wizard began to murmur words in a language Tamar couldn’t make out. He touched his staff to Tamar’s hands and it flared with energy. Tamar leapt away in alarm.
“Ouch! Hey that hurt!” He looked down at his smarting hands. Dark symbols have been burned into his skin. “What are they?”
“They are seals which will help you control the dark powers and the dark entity within you. Concentration is the key. Control your rage and you will control all of that which is inside you. Use them well! If you wish to understand more, search for me, the seals will guide you. But for now, you must go back.” The staff in his hand flared once more and all was brilliant brightness. When sight returned to Tamar, it was his father’s worried face that he first saw.

~~~~~~~

“Tamar!” Boran grasped his son by the shoulders, uncontrolled tears of relief welled in his eyes. “Just relax son, you were just dreaming.”
“What am I doing in bed?” Tamar asked taking in more of his surroundings. The last thing he remembered was his father slaying the captain of the monsters.
“You’ve been asleep for almost two days straight!” Boran wiped his sons face with a damp towel.
“Two days! But, what about the wizard?” Tamar struggled to make sense of everything.
“Wizard? You really had some wild fever dreams didn’t you? But we can talk in the morning, you need your rest.” Boran left the room and Tamar felt his heavy eyelids closing once more. ‘It really must have just been a dream.’ he thought as sleep claimed him. But under the blankets the seals on his hands glowed faintly and words echoed in the back of his mind.
“Remember, control your rage and come look for me.”

*******

The first colours of dawn were softly painting the sky when Tamar next awoke. At first he was unsure of what had woken him, then he heard the voice.
“Tamar, Tamar! Wake up Tamar.” It called to him softly. He looked around to see who was speaking, but there was no one in the room.
“Over here.” The voice encouraged him. Tamar threw back his sheets and swung his legs off the bed. He was about to stand, to go in search of the voice when pain shot through his hands. Looking down he sees they are glowing.
“Come here boy!” The voice was becoming impatient.
“Who are you? Where are you?” Tamar asked ignoring the pain in his hands and getting out of bed.
“We’ve already had this discussion.” The voice snaps irritably.
“Why are you still bothering me? What do you want?” Tamar asked, turning as he spoke, trying to find the voice. Then he saw it, staring back at him from the mirror. “Why won’t you just leave me alone!”
“Because I want what’s mine!” Tamar’s other self lurched forward suddenly as if to grab Tamar, the boy jumped back in alarm, but it seemed there was a barrier between them for now at least.
“I’m not a possession, you can’t have me!” Tamar tried to keep his fear from his voice. The reflection glanced down at Tamar’s hands, Tamar looked too. They were glowing again.
“That fool wizard is trying to seal me away!” The reflection said with a sneer. Tamar felt a surge of power wash over him, dark and unwelcome power. Like a great weight it began to push him to the ground. Tamar glanced at his reflection. It was looming over him again in the mirror, a savage hunger in its eyes.
“No! You won’t take me!” Remembering the wizards words Tamar began to focus on the seals on his hands. As he did so the glow surrounding them spread up his arms and on until his whole body was flaring with light. The reflection redoubled its assault until Tamar was shaking with effort, his body bent double under the pressure. Yet still he did not crumble completely.
“AAARGH! You will not win! I know how to fight you now!” Slowly, inch by inch Tamar pushed back until he was standing tall and proud. Each second longer that the reflection failed to cow him he felt stronger and surer of his victory. Then the pressure was lifted from his shoulders. He had done it, he had won, the mirror was empty but for his normal reflection.
“Argh! I will be back, you mark my words!” The voice echoed around the silent room.
“I will be ready for you.” Tamar promised.

*******

It was an hour past sun rise when Boran went to check on Tamar. His room was empty but he soon found his son in the kitchen.
“What are you doing?” Boran asked uneasily as his eyes fell on the half filled pack on the table.
“Remember the wizard from my dream?” Tamar asked, not bothering to stop his packing. Boran didn’t answer, but waited for his son to continue. “Well, it wasn’t a dream. These symbols on my hands are proof.” Tamar held his hands up for his father to see.
“By the Gods, those are forbidden signs, how did you…”
“What? You’ve seen these signs before?” Tamar cut his father off in surprise. His father looked suddenly ashamed.
“I never really told you about the world outside the forest, or about me did I?”
“There’s no time to tell me now.” Tamar sighed with regret. “I can’t stay here, it’s not safe for you with me around.”
“There might not be time for me to tell you what you need to know, but at least you won’t leave without proper provisions!” Boran began taking out food and clothing from the cupboards and helped Tamar pack. Finally he took out some strips of cloth and made Tamar sit down.
“You can’t go around with these seals showing, it’ll make trouble for you.” Gently he covered the symbols on his son’s hands with bandages. “I kept too much hidden from you. I hope you will forgive me when you find out.” He spoke as he worked, not looking his son in the eye and obviously holding out on something which he is not prepared or seem unwise to tell him under these circumstances. But he then swallows it all his doubts away and looks him straight in the eyes. “I wish I could be of more help to you now.”
“Dad, you have two others who need you, I can take care of myself.” Tamar hoped he would be as brave as he sounded. “It’s time to go.” He rose from the chair and swung the pack onto his back.
“I can’t believe you’re leaving so easily, so suddenly!” Boran said as he accompanied Tamar to the door. “I should be going with you!”
“And leave the house to those two rascals?” Tamar joked, though there was a lump in his throat. “I should say goodbye to them.” Suddenly all he wanted was to hold tight to his little brother and sister.
“I will tell them, it will be easier that way.”
They were at the door now, the light of a new morning flooded into the dark house. Birds sang merrily in the treetops, unaware of the drama below. Tamar turned to his father one last time and sees the barely held back tears in the man’s eyes.
“I have one last thing I can give you,” Boran said, holding up a polished dark green stone tied to a leather thong.
“What is it?” Tamar asked as he admired the beautiful stone as it caught the morning sun.
“There might be people out there, good people who will recognise it. See it as a good luck charm, and maybe, just maybe it can be more than that.” Boran fastened the thong around Tamar’s neck.
“Thanks dad!” Tamar’s voice was hoarse with emotion. His father hugged him in a fierce embrace.
“Remember we love you!” Then he let his son go.
Without looking back Tamar sprinted across the dew covered grass and leapt the vine barrier that for fourteen years has kept him safe. Now, nowhere will be safe.
‘I will be back dad, I promise!”