Chapter 1: Legends
The secrets embedded in walls were begging to be told. The wind even seemed to whisper stories of the hideous man it had brushed against. People said to have seen the man standing by his window, looking out into the streets preying on the innocent. Others say he is a ghost, a folk story made to scare the children in behaving. Their town was plagued by the legend of The Watcher. Supposedly he watches from the highest point of the land, not letting anyone come in or out. If one tries to leave they are not seen again. She had heard this story since she was little, and so had her mom. The story of The Watcher had been passed down from generations, each generation giving their own little twist so the truth could no longer be distinguished from the lies.
Ilya watched the kids scurry across the street. Their screams of joy being amplified by the echo of the walls. If the festival was not so soon she would have debated telling the kids to please be quiet but their excitement couldn’t be contained. During the festival of the Dancing Suns they would dance towards Helios chanting his name with a tambourine in one hand and a drink in another. The women sang and danced while the men hollered until the sun came up the next morning. In truth the festival itself was not that impressive, but it was the spirits that seemed to dance alongside the townsfolk that made it magical. People’s burdens became lifted for this one night, their minds travelling elsewhere. People also rejoiced because legends said this was the one night The Watcher could be killed.
While most people danced and smiled around the bonfire some went out looking for the beast. Those who believed he was real and those who merely hoped it was a silly myth headed out into the night seeking The Watcher. Their efforts were fruitless. The beast never revealed himself and certainly not during the night of the Dancing Suns. Mama Palo says the beast is not a legend, but the town has begun to doubt Mama. After never seeing him and Mama Palo beginning to age they began to question her.
“Ilya come here” Mama Palo says standing near the entrance to her home. Ilya began to move towards her worried the conversation may never end but intrigued nevertheless.
“Yes Mama?” She said standing next to her. Mama’s Gray hair was becoming more evident as were her wrinkles. The signs of her aging were respected like a badge of honor and seen as a testimony of her wisdom and beautiful stories.
“Do you plan on hunting the beast tonight?” Mama asks with her eyes staring intently into hers. She shook her head. She had never gone hunting with the men, rarely any woman went with them. It was absurd for Mama to believe she would carry the pitchforks and torches with them while they looked for a monster that may not even exist.
“No, No Mama,” She laughed slightly, “I will be enjoying the night. The cakes are ready to be eaten and Helios is ready to be prayed to.” Mama nodded her head but didn’t smile as she normally did. Worried that she had said something wrong she quickly went to correct herself.
“Well, I mean, I could go. I’m sure the cakes will be eaten by someone else in no time.” She said trying to ease the awkward tension between the two of them. Mama’s face did not change though. Her stoic expression was still as stoic as she had been when she had first called Ilya over.
“What do you think of The Watcher?” Mama asked ignoring Ilya’s response. Ilya furrowed her brows. She wasn’t sure what to think. As far as she was concerned he was a myth to keep the children in line and something to keep the town’s culture alive.
“I do not know much, although he is a hideous beast hidden at the highest point of our village. He takes people who try to leave at night and kills them in his dungeon, shredding their skin to tatters with his claws.” She replied not understanding the meaning of this conversation. Mama Palo nodded, her eyes not leaving Ilya making her feeling unsettled.
“Yes. Yes. That is all.” She said abruptly ismissing Ilya with a flick of her wrist. Ilya wanted to ask what she had meant, or if she had responded wrong but that would have been disrespectful seeing as she was already dismissed. She bowed her head before baking away from Mama and her crazy questions.
She began to roam the streets littered with old lights and cheap banners saying “Praise to the one we call Helios”. Helios was their God, their ancestors lived in the Dark Age before Helios gave them fire and warmth in the form of the Sun. The monsters lurking in the dark became nothing when Helios granted them with the gift of life and energy. Mama Palo told stories she had heard from her great grandma of the Dark Age. Of the monsters even more hideous than The Watcher lurking in the dark, stealing souls at all hours. But like legend of the Watcher the line between real and fake was blurred after so many years of being passed down that they were considered stories instead of history.
She fantasized about the creatures lurking in the Dark Ages, her mind creating all kinds of grotesque shapes. Her house wasn’t far away, if she could just grab her sketchbook then maybe she could bring the creatures to life. Busy daydreaming about sketching the hideous creatures led her to walk into a strong pair of arms.