Howling Against The Dark
Chapter 1


Child Of Darkness

         The torches were burning low in the early morning darkness and the soldiers on watch were sleepily making their rounds on the battlements. The only sounds that could be heard were the whoosh of the breeze and the crunch of their own boots on the stones they walked on. The great east gate had been sealed for the night and Guardsman Colm Rourke was resting lazily in the watchtower waiting for his night of drudgery to be over.

      Rourke sipped from his hip flask and stared out bleary eyed into the blackness. Nothing moved, no sounds were made and yet Rourke was suddenly uneasy. He rubbed the sleep from his eyes and stared out again until finally he was it. A shimmer of reflection in the inky darkness. He watched the spot where he had seen the shimmer, his heart going a mile a minute. The shimmer flickered once more and the feeling of his mile a minute heartbeat suddenly stopped. A shiver of dread clawed its way up Rourke's spine as he ran for the alarm bell.

      Movement his close to the wall this late at night could only mean one thing THEY were coming. The Clang of the alarm bell ripped apart the still silence of the night like an explosion of sound. In its wake frenzied shouts and the thudding of boots joined the chorus of chaos.

      A crowd of armed men rushed to their posts upon the battlements. The troops came to a halt and a deep, harsh voice sliced through the pandemonium. "Who sounded the alarm?!". Rourke snapped to attention and called out "It was me sir, Guardsman Rourke!"

      A man in a more gaudy uniform than anyone else was wearing, strode across the battlements to glare at Rourke. "Well Rourke what's this all about?" Rourke took a deep breath and tried to sound confident. "I saw a reflection moving out there sir, it could be the vangua..."

      Before he could finish his instruction a cry went up. "Reflection spotted, post 8!" , then another "Reflection spotted, post 7!". The officer stormed over to the rear edge of the battlements "Light it up! Post 10 to post 1!" The troops looking out over the battlements saw a series of opening on the outside of the wall glow slightly for a moment, the great bursts of flame roared from the openings illuminating the ground 50 feet below the flames. The light bathed the ground in a harsh orange glow that chased back the darkness revealing its secrets.

      Guardsman Rourke was back in his watchtower and was the first to spot the movement. "It's a child. No pursuers in sight from Watchtower." The man in the next post along called out "Post 9 Confirmed, no pursuers!"

      There was a rush of commotion as the cries went out "Open the main gate! Surround the courtyard! Prepare the Portcullis!". Half the guard on the wall turned and surrounded the courtyard, as the gate house opened its entryway. The fear of what waited outside the walls kept every soldier pointing their crossbows down as the child stumbled in.

      The portcullis slammed down behind the child, but it didn't even flinch. "Stop where you are!" The child continued to stumble slowly forwards, as if the words had not been spoken. As the child walked the air began to shimmer around him once again, without warning his left arm suddenly vaporized into a dark cloud then materialized.

      "IT'S A MONSTER! KILL IT!" A soldier cried in shock and the moment of insanity that always follows great fear persisted. In that moment at least one their of the soldiers fired their crossbows down at the child. The child looked up as the bolts flew towards him, heralding his final moments. The child shimmered once more, then completely vaporized leaving behind only a dark cloud.

      "Hold fire! Hold fire!" The shooting stopped and the child re-materialized face down on the ground a few feet from where he had stood. "Open the courtyard! I know that technique, that child is a Vale." The man who spoke walked over and picked up the inert child. "The Vale's were sent with the colony builders. Call out the Rangers, the colony might be in danger."

Chapter 1
Howling Against The Dark