Nightfall

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Chapter 5

Wonik stood at the top of her hill overlooking an army that threatened the lands. They stopped just within eyesight of her. It seemed like a small army at first, about a hundred men on horses. Then the infantry came into sight. There were more people, male and female, all wearing different kinds of armor and wielding different kinds of weapons. It was unlike anything she had seen before. It was as if people from every land, including some spear wielders from Lumin, had banded together.

It was worse than just that. Joining the human soldiers were beasts, vicious gray wolves from the wild lands. Among the wolves were claw beasts. Claw beasts were said to be half wolf half man. They stood about six to seven feet tall with a humanoid build, covered in dark black fur and were capable of running on all fours at high speed.

Perhaps the most horrific creatures were the spiders. Very large spiders that stood as tall as the wolves. The spiders looked as if they were made from crystal with white carapaces that gleamed in the setting sun. Their legs were very long, suggesting they were capable of moving at high speeds. Wonik had never even heard of spiders so large, let alone seen any.

“I feel your fear Wonik,” a sinister inhuman voice echoed in her head. She looked around for the source of the voice, but there was no one in sight.

“Who are you?” she asked still looking for the foe. She moved to put her back against the house in fear that something might jump her from behind, but her eyes never left the army.

“I am all that you see. All who wander into the night become me. You will become me too, by this day’s end. All feeling will fade from your world. Only I will exist.” The voice became emotionless. It seemed to be growing louder in Wonik’s mind, making it difficult to concentrate. “Let us battle. Show me the strength you possess.”

All at once, the voice was stripped away from her mind. She felt strangely free, as if she had been tangled in a web and then torn away from it. Her fear became anger. Whatever this thing was, it was messing with her mind. Feeling her anger, the clear sky became covered in raging thundering clouds. All at once, the army advanced. The spiders rushed through the fields first, followed by the claw beasts and wolves, and finally the humans. Normally when an army charges they yell or cheer to intimidate. There was no yelling here. Everything was quiet except for the sounds of their quick advance.

Because of the differing speeds of which everything moved, the army was scattered. Wonik knew she would have to defeat each wave quickly before the next wave arrived. First were the spiders. She moved from her house to the hill’s edge. Already it was covered with spiders.

“Wonik-Koretops-Ti!” she yelled holding out her hands. From each of her fingertips discharged sharp lightning bolts at the incoming swarm. The bolts split upon hitting the first spiders, bouncing to multiple others and splitting again until every spider was part of the chain of lightning that surged through them, singeing their thick carapaces leaving black markings on each of them to the point where smoke began rising from them. The spiders continued their advance seemingly unharmed despite her powerful magic. As they got closer they jumped at Wonik.

“Wonik-Dorei!” she yelled quickly launching a quick gust knocking back the leaping spiders. They tumbled down the hill and taking a few others with them. She quickly retreated into her house but her home wouldn’t protect her long. She escaped further to her room and stopped, taking a quick glance around it. It was tidy, a large bed much larger than the boys’, a desk which held her personal belongings and cherished gifts from the other guardians and old friends, and of course the custom made stand which held the artifact that was trusted to her. The room was full of more than just her possessions. All of her memories were stored carefully and undisturbed. She grabbed the artifact, a flowing white cloak that always seemed to blow in the breeze. The wearer of the cloak could fly without wind magic. For a skilled mage like her it meant she could use other spells while in the air. She ignored the sounds of clacking coming from all around the house as the spiders climbed up the walls on to the roof trying to tear it apart. A single tear escaped her eyes. If only it hadn’t come to this. Wonik held her arms out at either side and closed her eyes.

“Wonik-Koretops.” she whispered quietly. With a very loud roar a huge burst of wind shattered the entire house, the circling winds creating a tornado which enveloped the spiders, tossing them along with the remains of the house in a circular motion. Wonik flew upwards into the center of the tornado, unaffected by her own magic. She could see spider after spider whirling around her in the tornado’s edge.

“Wonik-E” she quickly yelled a small spell allowing her to see through the tornado’s fierce dark winds. The army had stopped its advance, the wolves and the claw beasts retreating back to where the humans were. Some humans pulled out bows and crossbows and began shooting helplessly at the tornado. With quick hand motions she was able to catch their projectiles within the winds, and with more motions she launched them back at them. She pelted the entire army with the arrows they had fired, the wooden beams from her own house, the beds in which her and her children had slept, and the spiders that were caught in her winds.

“Your power will make a great addition to my forces. You will make me many wind mages.” The dark voice returned, ringing very loudly within her ears. She ignored it showing no signs of weakness. “The humans of Lumin are right to fear magic. It is for this very reason they learned to fight against it.”

One human ran forward holding a spear. He was covered in a thick suit of glimmering white armor. He threw the spear with such force it cut right through the winds of the tornado. The spear was unaffected by the winds she had summoned. Wonik flew quickly to the right, but wasn’t fast enough, as the spear pierced her left shoulder, wounding her and making her lose her concentration. The winds of the tornado faded, leaving her floating unprotected in the sky. She was hurt badly, but she was far from defeated. She pulled the spear out of her shoulder with her right hand before seeking her revenge.

“Wonik-Dorei-Rev!” she shouted, holding out her right hand clutching the spear. The ground underneath the soldier from Lumin split creating a crevice into which he fell. With a quick whip of her right arm Wonik closed the slice in the earth, crushing the soldier within.

“So you know more than just wind magic. Amazing.” The voice cackled within her mind making it very difficult to concentrate. Several women in the army jumped forward holding throwing knives in their hands. With a quick flick of their wrists, they each threw a number of small knives at once directly at her. The cackling continued in her mind.

“Wonik-E!” she yelled quickly over and over again creating gust after gust of wind, waving her uninjured arm back and forth to control it. She was in trouble now. A bolt of lightning struck from the clouds above the women who were throwing the knives obliterating them. Lightning began to strike throughout the army and the death toll mounted. Wonik herself held her right hand pressed firmly over her shoulder in an attempt to staunch her wound. Yet the laughing in her head only grew louder. It was becoming impossible for her to concentrate. She flailed wildly when she felt something heavy grab her from behind. Its legs wrapped all around her, causing her to begin falling slowly from the sky. It was one of the crystalline spiders. One of its fangs sank into her already wounded shoulder. She screamed in agony as the venom burned its way into her blood stream. The spider had her arms pinned making it impossible to control her magic, but she refused to give in to the pain.

“Wonik-Dorei,” she screamed, tears of pain streaming from her eyes. Lightning surged through her body, electricity surging into the spider’s softer underside from her own body. The spider fell to the ground, smoking from every crevice as her own body convulsed from the pain. She was very close to the ground now. Before she could recover and fly back up to safety a claw beast jumped on top of her, dragging her to the ground pinning her. It gnashed its’ teeth menacingly, but hesitated before going for the killing blow.

“Wonik-Koretops-Rev,” she yelled. The ground opened up around her creating a very large fissure into which she and the claw beast fell. She managed to break one of her arms free, and with a quick motion a spike of stone shot from the crevice wall impaling the beast. Wonik was in anguish now. The walls of the fissure began filling up with spiders. They climbed down after her. How were there so many spiders? The tornado spell should have killed them all. She launched herself upwards, thankful of her artifact’s power to maintain her flight no matter the situation. With a quick flick ground closed beneath her.

“Give up Wonik.” The dark voice echoed throughout her mind. She looked out over the land. It was covered in spiders now. The size of the army remained the same as she had last seen it, but there wasn’t a single blade of grass in the fields uncovered by the spider swarm. They climbed over each other trying to get to her.

“How,” she coughed weakly. “How is this happening?” She felt another sharp pain, in her right shoulder this time, as an arrow shot into it. She began falling toward the ground. The cloak should have kept her afloat, but for some reason it didn’t. The spiders swarmed underneath her, some standing on their hind legs waiting for her arrival. It wasn’t long before they piled on top of her and everything went dark.

All sound faded with the light. The voice no longer spoke in her head. She was in a place of pure darkness.

“You’ve fought well, Wonik.” The same voice was heard, though this time it was through her ears. A light appeared in the darkness, illuminating the source of the voice. A dark skinned man glanced down at her, but he had claws where his hands should have been. His eyes were as bright a red as his skin was dark. He stood seven feet tall, and a cloak of pure darkness enshrouded his form. His hair was dark black, and his ears were long and pointed. Wonik felt herself kneeling before him in defeat. She was unable to control her body at all.

“What are you?” she asked fearfully.

“I am the spawn of a darkling, forcefully made against my elf mother’s will, tortured by the darklings and abandoned by the elves. I am neither of them and yet I am both of them,” he explained with a dark hissing voice. “There was no place for me in this world, so I created my own.”

“The Night Land,” Wonik gasped.

“That is what you humans call it, yes. If it is the Night Land, then I am the night. All who wander into the night become a part of me. All who oppose the night will die. You will teach me your magic. Tawarln’s land will feed my armies. I am growing bigger, stronger. Soon I will be all who inhabit this world,” The darkness closed about her once again.

Wonik saw light as if she were opening her eyes from a bad dream. She was back in the open fields the ruins of her home. It was night time and a clear sky cast down starlight. The only spiders she saw were the bodies of the ones she defeated. She knew now that what she had experienced was part of an illusion, but no magic could create such a thing. The voice of her foe turned to a laugh. The remaining humans of the army joined in the laughter. The claw beasts and the wolves howled. There was one laugh that she amongst the crowd that took a moment to recognize. It was her own laughter. She tried to stop but couldn’t. Her body was no longer her own.

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