Getting back inside, The Darkness casually strolled over and sat unabashedly naked in the old rocker and began to gently rock back and forth as usual. After several moments, Elissa stared in amazement as a thick black smoke wafted in through the door from the outside rain and slowly gathered itself around his waist. After a short moment more, the smoke grew into a thick cloud which concealed The Darkness’s lower half and the rocker from view, before it began to slowly scatter and drift away. Once the smoke was gone, Elissa couldn’t help but stare wide-eyed as The Darkness was once again clothed in the same dingy gray pants which it had always seemed to have worn since she’d first met him.
Born of a family of wealth and prestige, Elissa had seen magical effects and watched people perform magic all her life, but never once had she witnessed such a scene. Magic involved willful manipulation of the primal forces of nature. Mana had to be drawn in by the user, then focused, shaped, controlled, and released through various means and rituals. Incantations, runes, embroidered patterns, scrolls, wands, staffs, rods, and other various magical devices helped control, shape, and manipulate the primal energies of creation and force it to the desired outcome, but what she’d just seen had defied all of that.
Simply by doing nothing more than rocking in his chair, The Darkness had unraveled the tattered clothes outside, transformed them into smoke, maintained the smoke’s integrity through the pouring rain, and then willed the smoke to come inside, wrap itself around him, and then transform back into the same tattered and worn clothes. No incantations. No symbolic gestures. No device to channel the energy. The Darkness had simply sat and rocked, and did what everyone she’d even known would call impossible – all without seeming to even notice!
“Wha… What are you?” Elissa stammered, staring in amazed disbelief at the thin male rocking back and forth before her.
“I am,” was the only reply from those cold, unemotional lips, as The Darkness continued to slowly tic back and forth.
“That… That doesn’t tell me anything,” Elissa snorted. For too long she’d simply tiptoed around the man before her, only really interacting with him every night as he forced his self upon her. She had been knighted. She was first of her class! To live in a constant state of fear and apprehension was not her way – or at least she wanted to tell herself that. Perhaps time had taken some of her initial fright from her. Or familiarity. Definitely the fact that The Darkness had followed her outside, allowed her to cut his hair, strip him, bathe him, and question him had made her more confident about pushing to see exactly what he’d tolerate from her and what he wouldn’t.
“Just what are you. How long have you been here? Where the hell is here? Who are you?” Several questions she’d been holding suddenly swelled up and burst out of Elissa in a quick rush, causing her to tremble slightly, fearing that she was pushing for too much, too quickly.
If The Darkness was bothered or offended, he showed no sign of it as he continued to rock rhythmically back and forth. “I am,” he answered once again in that same cold, harsh, unemotional voice, “and I’ve been here from before. This is, and I am.”
“GAAAH!!” Tossing up her arms in frustration, Elissa plopped down and sat cross-legged on the dingy wood floor in front of where The Darkness rocked. “You are. This is. From before! Stupid, worthless answers!” Crossing her arms over her chest in disgust, Elissa stared up into the cold unblinking dark holes that was The Darkness’s eyes. “None of those tell me anything,” she sighed. “Just tell me how long you’ve been here for starters. From before, you said. Before what?”
“Yes,” was the cold, cryptic reply.
“Yes? Yes what?” Several times in her life Elissa had been forced to talk to players of The Game of Thrones, and she knew full well how royalty and those vying for power would twist the truth until it was almost unrecognizable, without breaking it completely, but she’d never met anyone who answered in such a cryptic manner.
“Yes,” The Darkness clarified, “I was here before what.”
“That… That doesn’t make a damn bit of sense,” Elissa complained. “Before what? Before me?”
“Yes,” The Darkness answered simply.
“Before you got a rocking chair,” Elissa prompted.
“Before this house was built?” Elissa continued, relentlessly.
“Before this city?”
“Before what else?” She mused, half talking to herself.
“Yes,” The Darkness answered, still rocking back and forth.
“Before the kingdom was founded that we’re in? Whatever kingdom that might be,” Elissa asked.
“Yes, I was here before all that,” The Darkness replied. “Before the grass. Before the tallest trees. Or the highest mountains. Before the first clouds ever blew or drifted across the barren stone rock below them. I was before.” Slowly lifting a withered white finger, The Darkness pointed a long black claw at her.
“Tell me, child, the story of beginnings as you know it. Tell it to me in reverse,” The Darkness commanded.
“The story of beginnings?” Elissa asked, confused.
“What tell does your people tell about the beginnings of the world? The gods? Of creation? Tell me the tell of the beginnings, in reverse,” The Darkness commanded once again.
“Umm… Let me think of how we heard it for a moment,” Elissa muttered, frowning slightly. Everyone knows the story of creation, but having to tell it backwards wasn’t something she found natural at all. It was much like someone being ordered to recite the alphabet in reverse – doable, but only with a little thought and effort.
“Life was brought to the world, and the races scattered upon it,” Elissa began. “Before that Fire was gifted upon the ground to warm it by the Gods. Before that, Air was gifted to blow across the barren landscape, and before that Water was created to fill the dips and voids of the earth. The Earth was created first of all the elements, and was the base which all the rest was laid upon. The Gods came before all of this, as they were born in a great burst of light. That’s basically the story of creation told in reverse,” Elissa finished, biting her lip and hoping she didn’t leave anything important out which might upset The Darkness.
“So basically the Gods were born from the light, and they crafted the world as you know it,” The Darkness asked.
“Well yeah,” Elissa confirmed. “It’s a longer tale than that, and a bard or a priest would probably be the best at telling it to you, but that’s the general idea behind it.”
“And what was before the Gods? Before the Light?” The Darkness prompted.
“Nothingness. Just a great nothingness from what I understand,” Elissa answered, frowning with uncertainty. Such questions as ’What was before the Gods,” wasn’t ones which most priests wanted to hear, or that most people even wanted to think about.
“Nothingness,” The Darkness mused, slowly lifting its hand to rub its cheek. “Interesting. Quite interesting the things people make themselves believe.” Lifting his head slightly, The Darkness stared directly at her, making Elissa shiver slightly. “Let me ask you something different then, child. What do you have when the light goes out? What is there when there is no light? Nothingness?”
“No,” Elissa answered, shaking her head slightly. “Just because there’s no light, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing there. You’re just in the dark.”
“Exactly! Kakakakakaka!!” Leaning back rapidly in the rocker, The Darkness cackled wildly just like it had on the day when she’d first met him. “Before there was light, there was The Darkness.”
“Wai… Wait a minute,” Elissa exclaimed. “Are you telling me that you were here before the Gods? Before the Light of Creation?”
“I am. I was,” The Darkness confirmed, slowly nodding its head up and down.
“Then… Then what created the light?” Elissa asked, feeling lost and bewildered, as if her whole world was somehow coming unraveled. “What made the Gods? How did they truly come to be? Did you get to witness it?”
“I witnessed them as I birthed them,” The Darkness answered slowly as he stopped rocking and sat stiff and unmoving in the chair. After a moment, he slowly shook his head from side to side and then shrugged slightly. “Though I don’t know why I bothered, to be honest.” His cold harsh voice suddenly sounded almost sad -- melancholic even. “What was cannot be. Not anymore. No matter how much I try, what was done cannot be undone. It doesn’t matter anymore. Nothing matters anymore,” The Darkness sighed.
“What was done that cannot be undone?” Elissa asked, feeling even more confused than even before.
“What was done, child?” The Darkness reached up and stroked his chin several times several times, apparently lost in distant thoughts and memories of a time beyond the comprehension of any other living creature. “What was done, you ask?” Leaning back in the rocker, The Darkness suddenly cackled wildly once again. “Kakakakakakakaka!” When he was finished, the chair tilted forward as far as it could go and he leaned down to stare almost nose to nose with Elissa.
“What was done that cannot be undone, child? Not much. I simply destroyed Creation.”