This tale takes place in the colourful, yet complicated City of Tyrell. Colourful because of it’s wide variety of people and complicated also because of it’s wide variety of people. It’s not an ideal place to live; in fact, if you were to move to the city, then I guarantee that within a week, you’d be looking at houses in another city! People don’t move to Tyrell City. People from Tyrell City move to other places in Tyrell City because other cities in the country would probably discriminate them for their origin.
I shall explain; within Tyrell City, there are four regions. The city itself is built in a small but steep valley and it’s houses spreading right out to the surrounding highlands, but stopping and giving way to a vast desert beyond. At the centre if the city is, the quite astutely named City Centre. This is where you’d find the typical shopping centres, the schools, train stations, monuments and tourist attractions. It’s a shame that the only thing that the City Centre is missing is tourists. This is in the centre of the valley, deep in the heart.
On one side of the valley, the gold of the grey city, is Boundary. Boundary is filled with big, modern houses built from pale bricks, wide, tarmac roads, black, neatly paved drive ways, posh cars, neat, well-kept front gardens, trees and, most importantly, Horizon House. Horizon House sits at the top of Boundary, gazing over the surrounding Valley and it houses the Mayor and the people who govern Tyrell. Boundary is where you would find the successful business men’s houses, the policemen’s homes, the most expensive schools and the people who are most well off and can afford their electricity bill, along with taxes and gifts for their children at Christmas.
The opposite side of the valley is called The Wynde. Looking at The Wynde, you would notice the tall, dark brown-bricked, historical buildings built extremely close together, the narrow, cobbled roads running up the steep hill like black veins, the black, slate rooves, some which had ancient gargoyles nestled in the corners. This is probably the most historical part of the city, the only part with the original, iconic, gothic buildings from centuries ago. It is here you would find the people who live in small, confined flats down narrow streets, people who have no real jobs but get income by other, more shady means, people who dress in a certain way, people who are looked down upon by the rest of the city. Oh yes, discrimination is a big part of life in Tyrell City! People who live on The Wynde live in a tight community, look out for themselves, concentrate on surviving, not luxury.
The last region of Tyrell City is the Outskirts. People out here are middle-class, normal, in-between people who aren’t defined by where they live. They aren’t defined by money or status but go about their daily lives, rarely involving themselves in the conflict between the prejudice and the survivors.
There is another part to the city, a part that people learn about in their history lessons and are told about in the form of legend. The city’s Underworld lies beneath The Wynde and spreads out beneath the whole of the city and some of the desert or wasteland that surrounds the city. It is only legend, not many people speak of it. Years ago, in medieval times, the king decided to ‘cleanse’ the city of the vermin. To do this, he decided to build a wall around the section of the city where the peasants lived and dwelled. Doing this, he entrapped the peasants and effectively, ordered his men to build another city on top of their city. Their city was buried deep beneath, the only hope for them were the people who knew better, who knew that one day, the kings plan would fail him; vermin would find it’s way back into society somehow. So a secret group was created, people who were part of the kings court were given keys to secret entrances to their underground city. These people who were entrusted to passages to the Vaults, which in turn, would allow passage to what the people called The Warrens. These people were called the Descendents. People in league with the descendents, were known as disciples. Together, they believed that one day, the people of the Warren would once again, rise and punish the king for his actions. Of course, the legend was soon forgotten about.
This is who we are. We are survivors, living against the harsh inner rims of society who call themselves sophisticated but are really just tyrannical beasts posing as human beings. Or so I say; I’ve yet to meet someone who isn’t from The Wynde, who actually accepts us and isn’t a complete bitch. People say, however, that a Black Parade will soon rise and take back the city. What once belonged to the myths of the Warrens and what was once held in hands of black and gold, of The Wynde and Boundary will be reclaimed. Those who claim they are gods, who drove the warriors beneath the city itself, will fall to it. And all it’s descendents.
At the top of The Wynde is Duskgate Mansion. My house. It sits at the peak of the hill, surrounded by trees; it’s huge, gothic structure reaching above the tallest pine trees. My parents are dead, so I inherited it. The mansion itself is only the tip of the iceberg, there are more chambers running deep into the earth, reaching the Vaults through the Archives and the Cellars, through it’s many rooms. The mansion itself rivals the beauty that of Horizon House, the two houses stand face to face, forever locked into each other’s sights. It holds authority; as do I. As my parents died, I and the house inherited the secret of the Descendents. I know for a fact that the rumours are true. I am a key holder. I see the future from my bedroom window. I can see almost all of Boundary from my bedroom window. It seems a shame that so few people can witness such a beautiful sight.
But that’s just the way things work.
My name is Cynthia, and I can see The Black Parade rising in the east; we are ready.
Part 1: A Call to Arms.
The Mayor sat at his desk, opposite the window that looked out over Boundary. In the distance, he could make out the dark stain of The Wynde, and the tiny turrets of Duskgate mansion that were just visible above the canopy of thick, misty trees. He could see something brewing over there.
Pulling his weight from the red, velvet chair, he went to stand at the window. Duskgate Mansion and Horizon House were forever locked in a hostile stare- it had lasted years, decades even. He would go as far as to say centuries, but on Boundary, people would look at him with odd expressions if he so even referenced the reign of King Yoran. It was not a subject they talked about in civilised terms.
Let alone the fact that his family had been Descendents...
Of course, that was a long time ago and the Mayor had made sure to have the passage way to the Vaults in Horizon House sealed off. An uprising was one thing that Tyrell did not need.
But he couldn’t help but feel...anxious.
People had been turning up dead. Wyvern Industries had taken part in a major cover-up that even the Mayor himself knew nothing about.
The body count was rising. Maybe this is how it starts?
He turned, breaking his gaze from the misty forest that crowned the hill. He needed to nip this in the bud. A pile of sterile white papers sat on his desk- the words that let him obtain more armed forces around Boundary.
Would people see his moves as fearful, perhaps? Of course not! It was in his citizen’s best interests!
And the deaths kept coming.
The mask he kept on his face was full proof; people would only see a strong Mayor that wanted to keep everyone safe.
But safe from what, he wondered...
Just what was coming his way?
One Week Ago...
The train station, at a glance, was empty, as it should have been that late night. However, fate had not been so kind to the 3 souls who were sat on the steps that led to the bridge to the other platform. Two of them were dressed in black and leather and denim; one of them had bright green liberty spikes and the other had long, black hair. The two guys contrasted entirely with the girl who stood before them. She had fluffy blond hair that fell around her shoulders like a cloud. Despite her apparent age of around 20, she wore a pink dress that looked as though it was taken from a young girls dressing up box; it gave her the appearance of a doll. She hummed, lightly and hopped from one leg to another.
“Where are they?” asked one of the guys, taking a spliff from his mouth. He looked at the girl, rolling his eyes, his straight black hair swishing in the wind. The girl shrugged and continued to hum a tune.
The guys exchanged glances. A normal passerby would have assumed that this girl was anything but someone from The Wynde, maybe even that she was the age she looked. In fact, the liberty spikes belonged to her brother. The three of them waited. The only sound came from the girl’s humming.
Soon enough, footsteps came from down the platform. Two figures appeared from the darkness. These two young women were dressed in the same way as the two guys; studded leather.
“Sammie!” one of the shouted and the doll-like girl skipped, laughing down the platform to hug the shorter or the two.
Sammie launched herself towards Amber, embracing her. She then looked at the timid girl who followed in Amber’s wake.
“Good news?” asked Sammie, her head cocked.
Unlike Amber and Sammie, this girl had a messy cloud of jet black hair, the storm cloud to Sammie’s white, fluffy cirrus. At first, she looked at the floor, a solemn look on her face. Just as Sammie was about to speak, she smiled and looked up.
“I got in!”
“Oh my god, that’s amazing!” Sammie squealed and hugged her. “Nicki, you’re going to be an artist!”
Nicki laughed along with the other two. “Not just yet, I have to go through the University yet and actually complete the course!”
“You should have seen it, though!” laughed Amber. “The exhibition was insane! As soon as she dropped the sheet, you could hear all the gasps and you could see the looks on their faces! No one else’s was as detailed or as well-done. In fact, I’d go as far as to say very few others who took the exam even had talent!”
“I’m just so surprised they actually let me pass and let me on the course.” Nicki frowned.
“They couldn’t have said no. If they did, it’d make the University look bad. They were forced to ignore your origins! This is good! It means they’re finally having to put prejudices aside!” grinned Amber. “See, I knew it could be done without war!” The other two girls looked at her.
It was as if Amber was looking at something far bigger than a University application.
They all knew what she meant when she said ‘war’.
“So, Little Fly got into University!” A green unicorn appeared behind Sammie, a grin on his face.
“She absolutely did, Rick!” squealed Sammie in excitement.
“That means you gotta put up with swag fag snobs for three years, mate.” He replied, nudging Nicki who looked down, blushing. “I s’pose that means you’re good, then?”
“Good?” Amber raised an eyebrow. “She’s Pablo Fucking Picasso!”
“Congrats!” smiled Bob, who’d appeared from the shadows after putting his spliff out on the floor.
The group laughed and joked among themselves, making their way back to the steps; their designated hang out despite how daringly close it was to Boundary.
To enemy territory.
It was when foreign voices could be heard from the other platform when laughter ceased and the five of them tensed, like deer’s being stalked.
“Yeah, got it shipped all the way form Port Caliburn! And the leather is from Wild Beast from the Crow Continent! My Father had them imported especially for me!”
3 figures had appeared in the dim light from the electric lamps. The sound of rain started to come from the tin roof above and the moths that had to recently thronged the lamps disappeared. The 5 Goths didn't move. In the fleeting seconds they’d had before they were seen, only ideas of what to do had flown across thought, but no action was taken.
“Ha! Look what we have!” one of the Boundary guys yelled. Whether they were drunk on alcohol or power remained to be seen, yet all three of them gazed across to the other platform.
“I see they let the pigs out of the pen again! Such a hindrance! I wonder when they’ll be exterminated for good!” they laughed.
“Wouldn’t want them to spread their injection!”
“We might get rabies!”
Nicki tugged at Sammie’s arm and the 5 of them exchanged glances; their stone serious expressions completely contrasting the maniacal, almost drunk laughter of the 3 Boundary citizens.
“I know!” shouted the one wearing the leather jacket. “We’ll have a little fun with these peasants!”
The other two laughed, exchanging glances of their own. A single thought crossed their minds and at once, all three of them knew what they were about to do.
The leader of the three slipped down from the platform onto the subway track and made for the other platform. At the same time, the other two split off, making for the two bridges either side that linked the platform.
The five Goths sprang into action.
“Shit!” yelled Bob. “Sammie, this way! Split up!”
“You can’t run from us, fucking whores! It’s a game of cat and mouse in these tunnels!” shouted the leader form the railway.
Nicki saw Bob and Sammie pelt down the platform and Amber race in the other direction, eventually disappearing onto the rail track.
“Little Fly? I think we should really be going!” shouted Rick from behind and Nicki felt a tug on her leather jacket.
She saw a pale hand grab the edge of the platform and the leader start to haul himself up.
Finally, she turned and followed the green liberty spikes into the shadows of the subway.
When the first soldier displaying it’s solemn, sentient figure at my front door, I was unprepared for the implications that came with him. It was a night like any other; a party was in full swing in one of the main rooms in Duskgate Mansion- a place considered a Hub for The Wynde Community. People came here for company, when they were in need of food or a helping hand. People looked to me for guidance, yet all I could give them was my home, left to me by my parents. When it came for me to offer my hospitality to Gus, it took me a while for his motives, his intentions and what that meant for what has been passed down through my family to really sink in.
The party, led by the band Deadlight, took place in the huge, mahogany jungle of a lounge. In retrospect it was more of a gig hall littered with leather sofas, tables and other furniture that provided a place of socialising, of dancing in the clearing in the centre, and of music, blaring full blast from the set-up in front of the ornate fire place. The cloisters that separated this room to the right of the main entrance were elaborate, as was much of the architecture, yet most of the mansion rooms were underground, it’s ancient stone structures baring the secrets of what lies beyond the deepest of darkness.
I stood in the centre of the landing, opposite the front door, the stair case with elaborate carvings coiled the room on either side. For any newcomer, I could see how intimidating it must be. To the right of me came the thumping heart beat of the rave and to the left came the sound of chatter, of laughter from the large kitchen. Several doors led from these two main rooms to other parts of the house, but most of them were never used.
Just space, taken up by my parent’s memories.
The two huge oak doors were open, sending tendrils of light into the night sky and off into the misty forest that surrounded the house and people dotted the steps, smoking, snogging or whatever else people did that required them to escape the sounds of life.
My line of sight stretched all the way to the break in the misty fir trees, where the gravel drive met the house. The night sky was clear, apart from a tinge of red at it’s edges, like it was on fire.
The dark figure appeared from the darkness set against the lights of the house; it looked withered and tired, or broken...
The people on the steps ignored him as he made his way to the threshold, where he stopped. I looked down from the landing. He was certainly dressed like one of us, and it wasn’t strange to see such sorrow on The Wynde. Yet something was different and I felt it. It was like it was following him.
I made my way down the stairs, the wood cold on my bare feet. His face came into view and I saw just how lost he was. He was tall, thin and incredibly pale, as if he’d seen a great many harrowing things. He wore nothing but boots, trousers and a denim, sleeveless jacket with a hood that exposed his chest. His ribs were almost visible.
I approached him and he laid eyes on me.
“I’m looking for...for the one they...” he paused as I got closer. I reached a hand up and moved to touch his face. Such sorrow. He recoiled slightly, but then let my fingers brush his cheek. “The one they say will let people in who need help.” He finished.
“I’m Cynthia. This is my house. I offer it to The Wynde and people like yourself who need somewhere to go.”
He looked around, uncertainly. I backed off, assuming this was just another case of homelessness or theft. I got a great many people who needed a bed for the night, people who’d been raided by the Boundary authorities or who had just been generally fucked over.
“Um...” He looked towards the party.
“Come.” I said, taking his hand and leading him away. There was a door directly opposite the main door that led to the Archives. People knew not to go into this room. The Archives was a library that belonged to my parents; a room that I believe held clues to their deaths, yet a room that I also used as a personal study. Only my Disciples used this room freely yet exceptions were made.
In this case, I led Gus through this door, making sure to close it behind me and led him past bookshelf after bookshelf. The room itself is rather large; bigger than the gig hall lounge. What makes it so cosy is the labyrinth of bookcases creating a clear path to the centre and paths to doors leading off. There was, of course, the danger of getting lost to those who did not know this room as intimately as myself. In the centre, there were two velvet sofas and a mahogany coffee table with matching end tables. I, like few others on The Wynde enjoyed the luxury of electricity, so I’d had lamps placed all over the Archives.
I did enjoy a bit of interior design every once in a while.
I motioned to a sofa.
“I need...I don’t know what I need...” Gus said, standing at the edge of the clearing of bookshelves.
I paused, again, sensing something following him; a great shadow that yelled and screamed and fought.
Something was different.
“What happened to you?” I asked, sitting down. “I get people asking for help all the time, but something is far different.”
Gus sat on the edge of a sofa, hands clasped together. It was the first time I noticed the rifle strapped to his back. Not that I looked at him in perspective, I saw the mottled frame of someone who’d been through some shit.
“I was...I am in love.” He started. His bright blue eyes flickered up to my face and then back down at his hands.
“Her father thought I was a disease. He would have rather his daughter be dead and have me suffer than watch us love each other.”
“What did he do?”
“He had his daughter killed and tossed me out, taking everything but the clothes on my back. I don’t even have an identity anymore.”
“It’s Boundary who’ll be sorry.” He looked at me. “I...I need revenge.”
I eyed the rifle. “Didn’t you already take revenge?”
“Not for myself. I’ve already done that. No, things need to change. I need to do this for Amelia.”
I looked at him. He needed much more than I could give him. He needed something much much bigger.
His blue eyes were filled with desperation, anger and a shadow that I knew was shared among many others. And inside myself I felt something trying to get out. Something that outgrew the very foundations of the mansion.
Maybe even literally...
“Hey Little Fly. You going to the party?” asked Rick, balancing on the railing below the roof top and peering over the edge, looking at Nicki who sat on the slate gazing at the sky.
“I dunno...I don’t really want to go...” she mumbled. He could just make out a paint brush in her hand.
“Hey, come on, we need to take our minds off things. And anyway, people are saying this one’s going to be different.” Rick frowned for a moment, then looked back up at Nicki, leaning on his elbow.
“It’s just...Amber was going to go to this one.”
“All the more reason to go!”
“Yeah but...I’m still...you know...”
“Hey, I get it!” Rick said as he pulled himself onto the roof top. “We’re all still grieving. I just think this would be a good way to say good bye, ya know?”
He sat next to her, dangling his long legs over the side.
“I’m not grieving, I’m just...angry.” Nicki frowned and squeezed the paint brush. “She wanted me to go to that university with all those...monsters! She wanted me to put up with them for 3 years, how am I going to manage that now?”
Rick sighed. “She’d probably say something like ‘Quit moaning, Nicki, tough it out!’”
Nicki smiled slightly. “I don’t want to go.” She murmured.
Rick raised an eyebrow.
“I want to stay here, with you guys!”
“You can’t stay here, Nicki.” Rick looked down at her. She looked back, crestfallen. A look that Rick had seen melt hearts of steel. “I’m sorry, but you’re the first one of us- probably the first person from The Wynde, in fact- who’s even managed to get the attention of a school on Boundary! Let alone the first person who’s been actually let on the course! I tell you, if it was a Maths exam or an English exam, they wouldn’t have given two shits. But you managed it! You the first! You can’t back out now.”
“But, I can make a career other ways.”
“What other way is there on The Wynde? We’re all as broke as each other. No one has a future on The Wynde. Look at me; I’m up to my eyeballs on booze and pussy. Wanna know why? Because I haven’t got anything else to do! I got no job, no hope of even getting one. I’ll probably die before thirty like most. I got no hope.” Rick looked at the surrounding roof tops and then down at the empty street. “No one on The Wynde has hope.”
“But then isn’t that what the Black Parade is all about?” Nicki looked at him with hopeful eyes.
“No one believes that story. That story is about war and death and blood. Even if there was a war between us and them, look at what Amber managed to instigate! She managed to start something that would solve the problem without war!” Rick stood and addressed the stars. “She made you our hope! It may not seem like it now, but if you go to that university and live among them as one of us, then people would see...hope!”
He looked down at her. “You are our hope!”
After a pause, she said, “No need to get all religious on me. But I’m just so mad!”
Rick held out a hand. “Do what Nicki does best and keep all that anger hidden deep inside of her. Don’t let it out. If you do, all Amber’s plans will be ruined!” Nicki took his hand and stood, the roof beneath them creaking. “No, what do you say about a good party?”
He winked and the pair of them left the roof, making for Duskgate Mansion.
The sounds of the party could still be heard from the Archives. Gus wanted to instigate war. And, by extension, create The Black Parade and march it towards Boundary killing everyone who lived there. At least that was the impression I got. He spoke of blood and bones.
I didn’t want to believe it. My Mother had told that this is how The Black Parade would start and soon, the secret that had been passed down through generations of Descendents would be known by the masses.
The only thing wrong with this, was despite my being a Descendent by blood, my parents never actually told me where the access to the Vaults was in the house. A Descendent is one who is entrusted with passage. My role as a Descendent is made somewhat void.
Which is why I was cynical about Gus’ talk of war. The implications that came with him to the steps of my house were linked to things I could only say were stories.
“Cyn? There’s someone at the door.” I looked past Gus to see Rhiannon, my closest and most trusted friend. She too was bare foot and her mocha flavoured skin was adorned by a thick mane of hair. She reminded me of a small lion. Despite her small build she was twice as fierce as one.
I raised an eyebrow.
“And no one ordered pizza.” A smile flickered over her bright red lips. “He’s asking for you.”
I looked at Gus. “You can stay here as long as you like. We will talk again. Feel free to find a room and sleep if you wish.” I stood leaving him hunched over on the sofa and followed Rhiannon from the Archives.
Before we reached the main entrance Rhiannon turned. “I must warn you, he’s rather good-looking.” With a wink she stepped aside.
He was tall and well-built, a mop of black hair above his dark eyes. However, he looked pale and uncomfortable beneath the electric lights. I knew that half of The Wynde didn’t have the luxury of electricity, but it seemed more than that...
“Cynthia? You own Duskgate Mansion?” he asked, looking down at me. His eyes flickered for a moment, as if something to the side of him caught his eye.
“I am, how may I be of service?” I asked, despite the rythmatic pound from the party.
He looked around, as if he didn't want the conversation to be overheard. I motioned to the door behind me and Rhiannon led him over the threshold. I left the party in full swing, it seemed it had a life of it’s own. Following Rhiannon and Sam into the Archives, I looked ahead of them to the sofa, where there was no sign of Gus. As I rounded the sofa, however, I saw him sprawled across it, sleeping.
“Walk with me.” I said to Sam. Rhiannon nodded and skipped back the way she came. I however, wandered off down a book case corridor. Sam followed.
“Why is it you seek me out, then?” I asked him, running a hand over a shelf of books.
“I’m here because I feel it is time for the Black Parade to rise.”
I paused. “That is a story, merely fiction.”
“I have reason to believe otherwise.” He paused and looked behind him, scowling.
“And what reason would that be?” I asked.
Sam pulled a face briefly, as if he was looking at someone, but then looked at me. “I’ve been down in the Depths, in the Warrens. I’ve seen the Shamar.”
It was as if he was going to add something, but he stopped.
I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing.
“That is not possible. They are stories!”
“No! They are true. I thought as a Descendent you would know that!”
“The Descendents were a bedtime story my mother told me.”
He met my gaze with a hard stare. “I have seen them. I am living proof they exist. I am proof of their inhuman power! Don’t you see? It’s time!”
I looked away. Another person talking of war?
“We must take back what once belonged to us! It’s time for war!”
He stood there, hope in his eyes. “I am sorry. I don’t want a rebellion. I am no political figure, I am not a warlord. If you want war, you have come to the wrong person.”
Sam looked behind him, mumbling to himself. He eventually looked back at me. “But, you’re the last Descendent! You’re known all over The Wynde as the Descendent, the one person who guarded the secret of the Shamar! You alone have the ability to lead us to war! Can’t you feel it! People all over The Wynde can feel it! They know it’s coming!”
“Stories!” I cried. “The Shamar do not exist!”
He paused. “What will it take to prove to you that they do?”
I shook my head. He must have been insane! I watched as he went ahead of me, looking through the shelves and eventually turning, sighing.
“I’m sorry.” I murmured.
“No you’re not.” He replied bluntly. With that, Sam strode past me, heading back to where Gus was asleep. I followed him, trying to come up with a way of getting rid of this asshole, yet most of what I stood for meant that I couldn’t. I watched as he spun, aimlessly, as if looking for something. Eventually, he settled on a desk near the bookcases that held nothing but stationary. I watched as he stood with his back to me. There was the soft scrape of metal. He bent his head.
“What would you do if I proved to you, here and now, that the Shamar exist and their power is within me?” he asked, the muscles in his back tensing.
I shook my head. “I don’t know.”
Sam slowly turned, the gold glint of a letter opener in his hand. I suddenly became wary that someone, built like a bull and not mentally sound was holding a sharp object.
Gus slept on.
He raised the letter opener and held out his arm.
“Would you accept the fact that the stories are true? Would you give this city the push it needs?” Sam asked again, the flickering shadows from the lamps through the many bookcases masking his expression.
I remained silent, bracing myself.
Sam suddenly plunged the letter opener into his arm, the soft squelch and blood pooling around the gold metal. I could see the sharp point beneath his arm, blood now seeping freely from the wound and dripping down, onto the floor.
Gus slept on and a remained perfectly still. Something in me was waiting for something. Another part of me wanted to scream and get away from him!
Sam gripped the handle and pulled the opener from his arm. I watched as the blood red metal slowly slid from his flesh, leaving a deep, bloody gash. It still bled.
Yet, a moment later, the bleeding stopped. I blinked and the wound was gone. The only evidence it had ever been there was the blood soaking his skin and the floor.
I blinked again, not quite believing it.
“You see! I’ve been down there; I have received something from the Shamar! I think I’ve died, I can’t tell, but that doesn’t matter. Their power is real!” he cried, his voice forced with the strain of trying to make me believe.
But no matter how I didn’t want to believe what I had just witnessed, I had no choice. Whatever this strange, inhuman power was, it was yet another thing that pointed to the existence of Shamar and the rise of the Black Parade.
I was slowly finding myself looking towards the east. All I saw was the shadow of change.
As Nicki followed Rick up the main thoroughfare of The Wynde, she couldn’t help but notice something was a little off.
“Hey Rick, something’s not right.” She muttered, gazing round at the dark, cobbled street that was slowly being blanketed in thin mist. It was only around 10:00 yet the moon was visible above and reddish black sky. It gave the narrow street silvery highlights that made it seem almost ominous. This far down The Wynde, not a soul was in sight; yet up ahead, Nicki could make out silvery figures. They didn’t get closer, in fact, they looked like they were walking in the same direction Nicki and Rick happened to be going.
“What do you mean?” Rick asked, giving her a sideways glance.
“I mean, people don’t usually act this way at night. People usually hang around, yeah, but why is everyone heading towards Duskgate mansion?”
Rick looked towards the figures.
“They’re going to the party? I heard it’s a pretty big one!”
“What’s so special about this party compared to all the others?”
Rick paused. “Deadlight are playing?” he guessed.
“They play at all the other parties. And not everyone on The Wynde would turn up. Could you imagine that?” Nicki stopped and looked back at the empty, abandoned streets. “If every living soul on The Wynde was headed for Duskgate mansion right now....” she trailed off. The streets behind her were somewhat darker, blanketed in a thicker shadow. As if something of great importance was going to occur at the mansion.
Rick touched her arm. “I know what you mean. Something’s happening. It’s not just rumours of a huge party.”
Nicki suddenly turned and pelted up the street. Rick followed her as she pushed through the thin crowd of people. However, the people started to thicken, the crowd growing and soon, he could barely see her through the mass of bodies. Every street was filled!
When she reappeared, she stood, surrounded by a sea of people. She looked up at him.
“Everyone’s here. Even all the people who don’t usually go! People I’ve never seen, never even met! Old Larry with his broken leg even turned up in a wheel chair!”
She merely stared up at him. Not in shock, but in utter disbelief and confusion.
I just wanted to curl up and forget. These people wanted something form me that I couldn’t give them. I so wanted to ignore them, but their voices were fresh in my head! And just when I didn’t want any more, the madness continued.
I was at the top of the stairs again, looking down on the party, watching Deadlight play their music and the people throng and pulsate around it.
The front doors were open. There were more people outside than there were before. Some sat, some stood. It made me wonder, so I descended the stairs and went to the room opposite the gig hall, to where there was a kitchen and a lounge that joined it, open plan. People in every corner. I’d never seen so many people in my house!
I moved through other rooms, smaller rooms. The people! The noose of their voices! What was more, most of them recognised me. Some smiled, waved, saluted, gestured. There were so many faces I didn’t recognise, so many I knew I’d helped in the past, so many I didn’t know existed. Why were they all here? Why were they all converging on this point?
“Cyn! There’s...there’s more strange people asking for you!” yelled Rhiannon’s voice form behind me. I looked into her mildly amused face and followed her, once again, to the main hall.
This time, 6 people stood in the doorway. Two of them held hands while one of the stood before the others, as though flanked. They had a certain robotic air about them. An order. What baffled me more was the way they were dressed. All of them bar one were dressed entirely in black; suits made for a special reason. The guy holding the female’s hand was dressed in black clothes. Something about the way they stood made them seem threatening. As though they were ready to attack anyone who came near them.
Luckily, they remained perfectly still as I approached.
The leader had a mop of black hair and startling green eyes that picked me apart, atom by atom as I came to stand in front of him.
“I’m looking for Cynthia Duskgate.” He said, flatly.
“What do you want?” I asked with a sigh.
“We’ve come looking for-”
“War?” I asked, interrupting him.
He looked at me, a knowing expression that told me everything.
“I am Nate. Can we talk. There are things that have happened that you should know about.” He replied, his face never faltering from stone cold serious.
I nodded and gestured to the stair case. The 6 of them went ahead. I looked at Rhiannon, who also followed me. I had a bad feeling in the very pit of my stomach. Whatever they wanted to tell me, it wasn’t good.
I led the 6 strangers to a study, one of the studies that my parents had used. This one in particular was filled with old paintings. There was an empty desk and a single chair. I felt apprehensive about choosing this room, as it was quite small and being in a small room with lots of people wasn’t something I enjoyed. I sat at the desk, Rhiannon behind me and watched the 6 strangers look at me.
“If you’re looking for war, then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place. The stories of the Black Parade are not true. What people say about me being a descendent is not true. If it was, I would know the secret to the people of Shamar. I do not. Therefore, the stories are nothing more than stories.” I said, looking at my hands which were clasped together on the heavy wood of the desk.
“Things have happened. Things that would normally instigate war.” The one called Nate stood over me. “The first move has been made. I’m afraid on our part. War will come whether you want it or not.”
“And why is that?”
Nate paused. “Because people from Wyvern Industries have died. Two of them were extremely important. We’ve heard of even more deaths, some of those from Boundary, some from The Wynde.”
“And what do you suppose I do about it?”
Nate looked at me, his iron stare burning holes in me. “You are a figure of authority on The Wynde. People look to you for wisdom and advice. Just look around you. You give people everything! The death toll is rising and you are the only person who can gather the people as a whole. You alone can call them to arms! Stories and myths are of no interest to us!”
I looked at him. This time, however, I really looked. There were bags under his eyes, a certain air of fear and something indecisive about him. He was so straight and formal, as if he was in the army. He was a robot and I was beginning to see what lay beneath. The others looked to him. I could tell; the way they followed him, mirrored him.
“8 people have now come to me looking for war. One of them wants revenge, the other is in sane and should be locked up. Why do you want this?” I asked, my voice cold and turning hostile.
He answered immediately, as if he trusted me. “We are a product of Wyvern Industries and a mistake on the part of Tarragon Industries. They made us kill and torture people from The Wynde. We are nothing but their experiments. We are looking for new leadership. Someone who will do the right thing.”
I leant back in the chair. Why did I feel as though everyone on The Wynde was watching me with eyes as intense as Gus’?
“Who are you?” it was the only question I could muster.
“I am Nate, This is Gale, Rafe, Seth, Kayla and Corey.”
He nodded in understanding. “There will be a time and a place, but not now.”
Gus sat up.
He wanted to fall back down onto the velvet and sleep. His body yearned for the deaths of those he hated but until them, he felt tired from the heart ache. It sent painful waves of lightening through his bones.
He looked around what Cynthia had called ‘The Archives’. He’d never seen so many books! Nor electric lights that actually worked. Now he knew why so many people looked to this place for help. Yet, if so many people came here and asked Cynthia for help and actually received the help they needed, why would she not do the same for him?
More than once he thought of going to the depths to find her. Of begging someone on Boundary to send him into the darkness!
Something else also nagged at him. If Amelia’s father had sent her to the Depths, then that meant the stories were true...right? There really was the chance of the Black Parade!
“Awake at last?”
The voice made Gus jump. Looking to the shadows, he saw a muscular man leaning against a small desk. He was smiling.
“What were you dreaming of?” he asked, regarding Gus with a look of fascination.
Gus looked down, avoiding his uncomfortable stare. He thought for a moment. “The Depths.”
“Ha! The depths! Been there, mate.” He laughed. “Believe me, it ain’t pretty. People go there to die.”
Gus paused. The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a small, silvery object.
“If people go there to die, how come you came out alive?” Gus asked, not really sure why he was engaging conversation with this strange person.
The man paused. “I didn’t. I died.”
Gus looked at him. There was something in his expression. Something...haunted.
“I don’t know how many times. I don’t know how long I was down there for. I don’t know what happened to me. Only that the Shamar did this to me. And I got out.” He fingered the object, catching it in the light.
It happened in slow motion. He turned the object in his hand and Gus looked to it, only for a moment. As fleeting as it was, the image of the light flashing on what he saw was like someone burning his eyes with red hot iron.
A silver ‘A’ on a silver chain...
Something in him died...
Rick followed Nicki through the crowd. Something was definitely happening. And all the things he saw could only have suggested that whatever was happening was going to be nothing short of monolithic.
He could feel it. There was a strange taste in the air; something tingled on the wind and people’s voices were buzzing with adrenaline and energy. He caught glimpses of children running, the very few elderly people who had survived on The Wynde hobble, sometimes people stopped to help, some people pushed past...
Everyone was here. Even as he looked back into the dark streets, he felt the burning desire to know what was going on. The same desire he could feel surrounding him in every direction.
I look back on that moment and I find myself glad that the last of the soldiers didn’t come to me that night. Instead, she remained hidden within the crowds that were slowly gathering. If she had come to me there and then, she may have been the tipping point, but my decision to leave the party and take off into the forest led to the same end anyway.
The forest had reached a certain peak of calm when I stepped out to wander through the emerald ferns. The ivy-covered forest floor brushed against my bare feet, sinking a little into the damp earth. It was this time of night that I enjoyed; enough of the light from the moon to send silvery slivers of light down in shafts, giving everything an ominous air. I turned back and could just make out the shape of the pale brick mansion through the deep brown trunks. I carried on, leaving the sounds of civilisation behind, despite how isolated the mansion was anyway. The ground sloped downwards slightly, the ferns thinning a little and pink blossom trees started to ooze their way through. Soon, I came across the remains of a cemetery- a small, rusted iron fence stuck up in places, marking the outline of an area in which stone graves stood. Not many, five of six, but old and moss-covered nonetheless. Over the years of coming here, I still couldn’t make out the names, but was sure that some of them must belong to Duskgate family members- my ancestors maybe? Yew trees stood towering over the graves and, past these stood a church.
This church was very special to me. I took pleasure in seeing it’s fragile skeleton, the wood and flesh corroded to leave the perfectly preserved white of it’s beautiful bones. The pale bricks built around lavish carvings and the tower, whose jagged line wound downwards, leaving some of it’s ancient debris at the base. The door was just an archway, with evidence of rusted iron hinges. Inside the church, visitors were greeted with a detailed statue of an angel that looked like it was praying, but could easily be mistaken for miserable lament.
There were no pews, only the ivy-covered forest floor that caressed my feet and evidence of fallen brick and structures. Sets of cloisters flanked either side of the church; their intricate carvings of swirls and circles showering the left and the right, all the way to the archway.
It was this extravagant piece of architecture that gave the church its name. Asphodel. The arch was quite plain compared to the rest of the church expect for one piece of decor ; behind it were the elaborate glass windows, the three that rose together and the circular window in the prominent position, overlooking the entire church. In the middle of the arch, where the two columns met was a statue the fell in the shape of a flower. It faces the floor, but the detail in the petals and the thorned vines that rose around it and coiled around the arch was incredible.
The story behind the arch also intrigued me. The story goes that there were two angels- one from Heaven and in God’s grace and another that had fallen with Lucifer. Unbeknown to one another, brother and sister. Both entirely equal in all ways.
These two angels were sent on a quest- to destroy the arch of Asphodel. The legend behind the arch was that it was a doorway, depending on which side you passed through the arch, would either lead you to Hell or to Heaven. The angels of Heaven considered it cheating, as you had to earn your place in Heaven, yet the angels of Hell saw it as a way home. So, it was a race.
Of course, the two angels arrived at the same time, to the church of Asphodel. Upon quarrelling with one another, they made the discovery of their relationship. There would have been a fight. Or there should have been, had the two not decided to call a truce. They agreed to leave the arch standing and go home. But there was a dilemma; which side of the arch would take them home? One bound for Hell, the other Heaven. It was a 50/50 chance. Choosing a side each, they both passed through at the same time, neither of them coming through the other side.
No one knows how the story ends, but I believe there are two possible outcomes- they both arrive home, having failed their quest and living in shame, but secret happiness of knowing they have found their siblings. Or, they arrive at the opposite of home and are both destroyed.
I don’t know which ending I prefer.
The story was from an ancient religion, one that had apparently died out in the reign of King Yoren. That was centuries ago. I only knew about it through one of the books in my Archives. Something about the whole thing seemed...alien to me.
I walked up to the arch way, looking up. I passed through. I would have liked to believe the story, but I didn’t know whether to choose shame, or destruction. Before the glass windows stood a man.
The Mayor gazed at the tiny lights atop the hill. The Wynde was a blaze with life tonight, and the night was still young. The glow that lit up the sky, polluting the stars and giving the clean streets of Boundary an orange hue gave him shivers. He could feel their restlessness.
He motioned to the guards at the door, both armed with several guns and an array of knives- whether out of his paranoia or not, the Mayor had insisted on heavily armed soldiers blanketing Horizon House- and the guards left him alone in the room with his thoughts.
It was true; the people of Boundary could see it. His mask had failed him. They could feel his fear. What scared the Mayor more was that he didn’t quite know what he was so scared of!
He’d had reports of an event going on tonight, but every agent he’d sent to The Wynde in the past three hours had told him there was no one there. It was empty! The only sign of life was beyond the gates of Duskgate Mansion. And he daren’t send his agents there...
But sacrifices must be made! For the good of Tyrell!
The Mayor was well aware of the secrets the family of Duskgate held. What he was not aware of was how they planned to use their secrets against him. The Black Parade could not rise.
The Black Parade would not rise!
“They talk of war.”
Ezekiel slowly turned. He was tall, much taller than me, in his early twenties and well built. His face was slim and his eyes were the colour of the moon when it shone with silver. His hair was golden, but looked dark and silky in the night. There was something lupine about the way his bones were structured; it was as if fangs hid behind his thin lips.
He wore a suit, as always, the old fashioned shirt tucked into his waist coat. A pocket watch was visible behind the grey suit jacket.
It sometimes alarmed me how much like an animal he seemed- in the way he stood, the way he spoke and the way he moved. Like a predator. I’d caught light reflecting his eyes before, where he’d sink into the darkness and reflections would shine from his eyes like a wolf hiding from it’s prey.
It didn’t unnerve me, however. Something about him seemed to disarm me, however. He’d make me feel things I hadn’t allowed myself to feel in a long time. He caught me off guard. He knew how to peep between my cracks.
“And?” he gazed at me with his silver eyes.
I paused. “They want me to lead them into war. They look to me for leadership.”
“They trust you.” The light from the moon shone through the broken glass windows, almost framing Ezekiel’s figure.
“I should never have let them trust me. I should never have let them think that they could rely on me as their leader.”
“You should never have given help to those who needed it? You should never have let them into your house and given them shelter?” he paused and took a step closer. “Can’t you see? You are probably the one person with any amount of power that actually cares for them! You know what The Wynde feels and you take care of them! They don’t need to ask for help because they know it is always there. Now they are physically asking for help. You will deny them?”
He cocked his head at me.
I looked down. I felt like I was torn in two. Part of me believed I didn't have a violent bone in my body. Yet the other half wanted to run at Boundary and rip their heads off and bathe in their blood.
“You realise there is something else going on as well?” he muttered.
“You don’t see it? It’s all over The Wynde.”
I remained silent.
He leaned on the altar, folding his arms. “People are changing. Did you hear about those deaths? They say a man got told to die, and so he did. They said it was like mind control. People have seen supernatural beings moving through The Wynde.” He stopped to see my reaction.
I remained perfectly still, knowing what he meant, but not wanting him to continue.
“You see yourself, don’t you? You don’t wonder what this is all about? People, everywhere are changing! Don’t you see it?” Ezekiel said, his voice rising.
“Of course I see it!” I snapped.
“Then don’t you want to find out-”
“Of course I want to know! You don’t think I want to know why I’m still a 16 year old!” I cried. Somehow, I knew this had been a long time coming. “I see people look at me, knowing I’m supposed to be fucking 24! I stand next to Rhiannon and people whisper! They talk! I hear them! You don’t think I haven’t looked for an answer already?”
Ezekiel looked at me. “I think it’s linked. All the strange happenings, all the unexplained things that people can do...”
“I don’t have time for your conspiracies.”
“No, but I still think this goes beyond Tyrell. Maybe even the Crown Continent!”
I sank into silence. Ezekiel continued, “It’s going to come around eventually. More people are being discovered with strange abilities.” He looked down, as if to hide something.
I sighed. “Can we discuss this after the impending war.”
He nodded, hesitantly. “Sometimes sacrifices must be made.” He came towards me, towering over me. “Sometimes we have to put aside our own fears. We have to put aside our principles, how we want to be seen, our own ideas. Think, how long has Tyrell been this way? Maybe it’s time for the people to have their way.”
I met his gaze, falling into his eyes before catching myself.
“But, I can’t justify the killing of innocent people. Despite what they do to us.”
“Isn’t it better that everyone is equal than having a hierarchy?”
` “But a new one will just emerge...”
He took my shoulders and looked down at me. “Sometimes the needs of the few outweigh the needs of the many.”
And with that he planted a cold kiss on my lips.
Should he start it tonight? Should he nip it in the bud? While they were still deliberating, planning, plotting...surely they would strike soon! Things were too suspicious for nothing to be going on! His people would see him as weak if he did not act! They would whisper and say he was stupid! He was blind! They would talk about him, call him names, judge him!
No, he would not be weak!
The Mayor reached for a head set on his desk. “Agents! You must go deeper! Find out what they are planning!” he slammed the head piece down into the desk. He trembled in the silence for a moment.
“Guards!” he shouted. At once, two guards stood in the room. The Mayor knew them- they were generals, in charge of the armies he’d gathered or something...
What mattered was that they could organise his troops!
“I want the military stationed on the edge of Boundary! Something is happening tonight and I want them ready to attack and detain! I also want you to begin the evacuation of Boundary!””
“Sir?” One of them asked. The Mayor shot him an evil look as he recoiled. “An evacuation of Boundary? The people, sir... somehow I don’t think they’ll leave.”
“It is a state order! Make them leave!”
“But, sir! They think they’re safe! And the military will be needed for that? How can they be in two places at once?”
The Mayor took a deep breath before bellowing, “I do not pay you to question! I gave you a fucking order and I expect you to carry it out! Now get the fuck out!”
The Mayor’s gaze fell back onto the lights of The Wynde.
Nicki and Rick finally got to the mansion. Nicki’s first instinct would have been to find Amber and Sammie. But she didn’t let herself linger in that moment of death; instead she set her sights on finding Sammie, who would most likely be with Bob.
If only Amber had gone with Bob...
The mansion was abuzz with life. She could hear the sounds of music from inside.
“Want a drink, Nic?” asked Rick, gesturing to the ridiculously oversized kitchen beyond a set of cloisters.
“Yes please. I’ll go find Sammie!”
Nicki sank into the crowd. Duskgate mansion was big, and the amount of people it could hold could easily be seen as a huge crowd of thousands of people, but something about the noise and the bustle made it seem... cramped. The mansion had never been this packed before. Something about it worried Nicki.
And then she saw the one thing in the room that did not make sense. The one thing that sense cold shivers down her spine and drained all traces of hope from her soul.
I followed Ezekiel back to the mansion.
“You need to speak to the people. Tonight, the Black Parade should march to Boundary, painting the streets black. We should take back what once belonged to us.”
“You really think it should be tonight? And what of all the people on The Wynde who will die? What of the weapons that the authority on Boundary have? We don’t stand a chance!”
Ezekiel paused. He bent down to a small rose bush and picked a bud from the leaves.
“The people need equality. They need you to tell them what to do. And you have the key...”
He stood and looked at me.
I knew exactly what he meant. It was true, I did have the key... “But I have no clue where it is or how I get to it.”
“That’s something you must do. But do it quickly. You see the people through those trees.” He gestured in the direction of the mansion. “They need you. They are from now on, on standby, ready to reclaim. All they need is for you to awaken the subconscious idea that has been with every single soul born on The Wynde, since King Yoren’s reign. You know the legends are all true. Each and every one of them.”
He gazed at me with his lupine eyes. “I believe in you.”
Part 2: Look to the East
“So. You must be the people who I see leading the Black Parade towards Boundary. I am Ezekiel. I share your desire to reclaim what is ours and to take revenge on everyone they’ve ever defiled.”
Sam looked at him, raising an eyebrow. “Where’s the chick?”
Ezekiel rolled his eyes. Despite Cynthia describing them as warriors, this one certainly didn’t act like it. In fact, Ezekiel may have gone as far as to say he belonged in the local mental asylum.
“Cynthia is looking for something that will help us.”
“Then why are you here?” asked the thin looking boy wearing nothing but jeans and a sleeveless denim jacket with no top beneath. Ezekiel thought Cynthia said his name was Gus. “Why are we sat here instead of doing something? Making a plan? Getting better guns? Anything?”
“Don’t be so impatient! Believe it or not, this place is supposed to have an armoury.” Piped up one of the soldiers, the whose name was Seth.
“Then why aren’t we in the armoury?” snapped Gus.
Ezekiel closed his eyes and rubbed his forehead as the group began to argue.
“QUIET!” he yelled, with a force behind his voice that sounded almost animal.
The group stopped to look at him. Ezekiel sighed. “Cynthia will come back, having found what she needs, then we take action.”
Once again, the group descended into miscalculated chatter of plans and weapons and the chaos of battle that was starting to seep through the walls.
My parents were scientists, belonging to a project called the Quantum Project. It was run by Wyvern Industries and the only things I have heard about their career was what was written in their notes. I kept these precious pieces of memory in the rooms beneath the Archive. I called this section of the mansion the Old Archive, since everything old and valuable I had in the library I kept down here.
I gazed at the rows of volumes crammed into the shelves in the particular room where I kept information on my parents. How they died I have no idea. Certain bits and pieces of information lead me to believe that they were assassinated. By whom? And why?
These are questions I’ve spent a life looking for the answers to.
Yet, there was another reason I searched through the journals, books, novels and tomes, and that was to find the secret of the Vaults. How to open it, where exactly it was...
Legend has it that my forefather built the mansion around the entrance, and locked it with a special door that only his own blood could open.
Of my 24 years living and breathing within the walls of this mansion, I have never seen such a door.
Yet I picked up a brown, leather book that had my father’s handwriting inside. His personal journal.
It is the 40th day in the month of reflection and Jewel and myself have decided. We must do what must be done. We are leaving the Quantum Project. I can’t say too much, other than that what we are about to do is dangerous. I see that Jewel is nervous. I hate to see her face in a state if disarray, but soon, when we are back in Tyrell, everything will be alright. My father said we should never have given ourselves to science. We should have stayed and guarded the Descendents secret! Like my grandfather, Danin! He spoke sense!
Unlike Heartlib. No one should ever have listened to that crazy bastard! To this day, they shouldn’t.
Anyway, Jewel assures me the secret is still locked away. I trust her completely.
I leaned over the words, trying to understand. Why was leaving their job dangerous? This was written several years before I was born, so they couldn’t have left so they could give birth to me. No, they had died a couple of weeks after I was born. And why was he talking about Heartlib? He was Danin’s twin, according to the family tree, so why should people still regard him ‘to this day’? I tried so hard to understand.
It pained me.
I tore another volume from the shelf, another of my father’s journals. There were many, most of them regarding his work with the project.
I opened this one to what I thought was Kye talking about the Descendents.
59th day of the month of Age. Tomorrow it will be Plague, and Jewel’s birthday. But something else is occupying my mind. I know I should focus, but I can’t shake these dreams. Something is coming. I don’t know what, but I hear noises, coming from Danin’s old chambers. They’ve remained untouched for over a century, so who could be in there?
They’re strange noises, yelling, the cool swing of metal, the soft noise of breaking flesh. It sounds like battle.
I have asked my dear friend Evanna, but he tells me to ignore them. He says it is because we escaped a cruel fate. He says we need to put some time between us and our time at the project. Personally, I don’t think this has anything to do with the project at all.
I gazed at the name. ‘Evanna’. It didn’t sound like anyone who lived on The Wynde. Maybe he was a fellow Descendent? Maybe someone who also worked in the Quantum Project? And something about his dreams and my forefather’s old chambers bugged me. Danin Duskgate built the mansion and his chambers were behind the central courtyard behind the Archives. Maybe those noises he heard in his dreams meant something...
Nicki gestured to Rick who handed her a bottle of beer.
“Who’s that, over there?” she asked in a hushed tone, although there was no point. There were so many people that no one would have heard her anyway.
Rick followed her gaze. “I don’t know...” his brow furrowed as he tried to place the ice cold face that stood by the cloisters that separated the party from those who just stood chatting.
The man stood out like a sore thumb. He didn’t wear leather, or denim, or clothes that looked as though they’d been stitched together. He wore an expensive looking suit with a tie and there was a small black ear piece just visible beneath his black hair. And what was even stranger was the way he acted. He just stood, not talking, not drinking, just...watching.
As Nicki watched, she saw his lock eyes with someone behind her. She turned to see another man, dressing identically to the first one.
“There’s another one!” she gasped, pointing.
Rick frowned. “Something’s not right.”
Nicki nodded. “What do we do?”
“Warn someone. Cynthia. We need to find Cynthia.”
Rick turned and started to move away, when he stopped and turned. “Where exactly is Cynthia?”
Nicki was about to say she had no idea, when a happy voice chirped from behind her.
“Who needs Cynthia?”
Nicki turned to see a short, chocolaty-skinned girl wearing a steam punk corset, baggy leggings that reached her bare ankles and a brown leather gun holster with a bronze handled gun nestled inside. She was barefoot, which usually meant that she was close to Cynthia. Nicki didn't know why being barefoot meant this, only that Cynthia and her close friends never really wore any shoes at all.
“Look at that man over there, and tell me he belongs here.” Rick pointed to the suited man near the band.
“Erm...he defiantly doesn’t belong here.” The dark skinned girl replied.
“And over there.” Nicki pointed out the other one.
“Ok, that is not right. I’m Rhiannon, by the way. I think I know where Cynthia is. I’ll go tell her.”
Nicki was about to object, when Rick took hold of her shoulder. She could only watch as Rhiannon sank into the crowd.
“Why did you do that? We could have helped!”
Rick smiled slightly. “We would be better keeping an eye on them to see what they do. If anything bad happens, then we’ll be here to either stop them, or warn someone.”
“Hhmm.” Nicki turned to watch one of the men again. It was then a plan started to flower in her mind, like a shape taking place on a blank canvas.
“Rick, I have an idea.”
Upon my father’s mention of Danin Duskgate, I decided to turn to his story, in the hope that the man who built the mansion had left some sort of clue as to where this damn door was. I wandered the hallways of bookcases, in search of the small room where the seriously old stuff was. The air was thick down here; dust covered every surface like a thin veil of silk and the deeper I delved, the more I found items that resembled ancient artefacts with indecipherable labels strung to them. I found old journals with yellowing pages among lumps of stone with lines carved into them, vases that looked antique, and the shapes of paintings wrapped in fabric.
Until I found a small break in the bookcases that covered every wall. There was a small desk with an old gas lamp and piles of papers and books. I searched among the clutter for the familiar feel of the cracked leather of my great grandfather’s notes.
I gazed upon the weak bind, before opening to an early page, sometime after he’d apparently left the Quantum Project.
I’d read the journal before, and I only knew vaguely of the Quantum Project and how my parents worked for the science involved. I knew Danin worked for it too, until he was killed. But I wasn’t here for information, I was here for answers.
I must work quickly. The foundations have been put down, now I only need them to raise the roof and then I shall be clear to start to get to work. I hope this does work. If not, then I fear for my family, for the child I put inside Hana and for the rest of The Wynde.
It is funny; I see The Wynde as my extended family and I find it strange that I should be building this house not only for my family, but for them. I do love them all, so dearly.
I sighed. These were all pages I’d read before. I knew that shortly after this journal, Danin was killed. How or why, I didn’t know, but one thing I did notice- he wrote with a hurried pace, as though he was on a set time.
Was it as if he knew he was going to die?
“Zeke? Zeke!” there were footsteps beyond the door to the Archives. Ezekiel rolled his eyes at the use of his pet name, the muffled tone of which came from somewhere from beyond the door. He knew exactly who was going to burst through, any minute.
“Zeke!” Rhiannon emerged from the dark hallway. “Oh, thank god, there you are!”
“Can I help you, I’m kind of busy.” Ezekiel replied. He looked round at the soldiers. Nate and Seth both had guns in their hands and Gale and Rafe flanked Kayla, who was grasping Sam by the collar, her fist raised.
The argument had escalated beyond recognition and Ezekiel was almost on the point of walking out.
“Erm...” mumbled Rhiannon, taking in the scene before her. “There’s a situation outside. I think we have spies from Boundary.”
Ezekiel stopped, thinking through what she’s just said.
He heard people gasp behind him. “I left a friend watching them, but I’ve spotted two of them so far. What should we do?” asked Rhiannon.
“We should take them out, quietly and quickly.” Suggested Nate, lowering his hand gun.
“No, we should capture them and torture them.” Sam countered, flashing Nate a dirty look.
“Everyone shut it! I’m thinking!” shouted Ezekiel. “Maybe we can use them to our advantage.”
Silence fell upon the room for a moment.
“We take them out, quietly, take their earpieces and listen into the conversation their having with Horizon House.”
Ezekiel turned to where the small voice had come from. Gus sat on the sofa, leaning on his knees.
“We roll with that. Nate, take The Wyverns and get up somewhere high, snipe them. We’ll be there to collect the bodies and drag them back here.” Ezekiel looked round.
“Won’t people be a bit....shocked that someone’s just been shot?” asked Rhiannon.
Ezekiel looked at her. “No. they’ve probably already noticed we have traitors in our midst.”
A moment later, Ezekiel led the way out of the Archives and straight into mosh pit in the main hall, at the centre of which was two men in suits looking beaten and bloody.
I slumped down into the desk top. There was no mention of the Descendents in Danin’s journal. Just a load of crap about how people are coming for him. About how he met his brother who told him he was going to die. Ordinarily, I would have pondered this, trying to understand just why he had to die and what actually happened, but today, I had bigger problems on my hand.
I looked down, my hair falling around my face. It was then that I noticed the corner of a yellowing piece of paper tucked into the back of Danin’s journal, which sat on the desk beside me.
I opened the back cover, to see the paper sticking out of the bind. I tugged at it, trying not to break the binding, but eventually, I pulled the thin letter from the cover.
I started to read:
No one can find this. Not for a long time to come. But when the time comes, I hope to god you find this.
To my descendent,
If the descendents no longer exist, then we have lost. You have lost. You will never be free of them.
If you read this knowing what I mean when I say the word descendent, then there is hope yet. They are the key to winning the war. As a family member, you hold the key to the door. It is your blood that opens the door to the warrens.
The magic I took back from the Quantum Project I used to seal it. Now it is time to open it again. I will give you clear instruction on how to open the door, but know this:
The black parade is true. They live down there, beneath the foundations of the city, waiting for the day it is time for war. And this time is now.
I am willing to bet the tipping point included a rise in death toll and several people turning up on the doorstep of the remaining Duskgates looking for help.
To my descendent, I hope I give you the strength to do what is now needed of you.
I closed my eyes. I’d found it! I breathed out before continuing.
Nicki stood on the stairs watching the chaos. Too many people. Too many people trying to grasp at the two spies. She spotted Rhiannon by the door beneath the stair, looking horrified. She stepped to the side to let a tall man through. The two of the paused, before gesturing behind them and letting through 5 people dressed in black holding guns.
The broke up the mosh pit, grasping the spies by the hands and forcing them to the floor. The people of The Wynde went quiet, gathering around the scene. The band through the other room halted their music, watching what was going on from the make shift stage.
“Kill them! They don’t belong here!”
“Fucking spies! “Kill them!”
“Wait!” came a booming voice from the door to the Archives.
The tall man in the grey suit came through the crowd followed by Rhiannon.
“We have plans for these two. We can use them!” he yelled, looking around.
“Fuck that, man!” someone yelled.
The crowd began to shout incoherently again, and Nicki turned to Rick. “I...I didn’t mean for this to happen. When I said mosh pit, I meant a small one!”
Rick smiled. “Dude, there’s no such thing as a small mosh pit. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. Getting Zeke involved wasn’t your fault.”
“Zeke? Is that his name?” Nicki looked at the man. He had a strange thin face and eyes that looked almost reflective.
“Yeah, he’s Cynthia’s boyfriend, apparently.”
Nicki raised an eyebrow, watching Zeke gesture to one of the soldiers dressed in black, who raised his gun and fired a shot straight into the plaster ceiling.
As bits of plaster rained down, Zeke shouted, “Quiet!” he looked around and was about to speak, when a hooded figure came forwards.
“Let me sort this.” Came a woman’s voice from behind the hood. She had her back to Nicki, but when she took down her hood, Nicki could only see a mane of bronze curls.
Zeke looked at her, his face set in a cold expression. “And what are you going to do with two spies clearly sent here to whisper updates to their mayor.”
“He’s your mayor too!” spat one of the spies, who was immediately introduced to one of the soldier’s fists.
The woman moved towards the spy, towering over him. She bent to whisper into his ear. Nicki sensed the whole crowd hold their breath, trying to listen to what she said, but as soon as the woman stood again, the spy mirrored her actions. Nicki tried to crane her neck to see his face, but the woman was blocking her view.
The spy turned and took a gun gently from one o the soldier’s hands.
“Let him take it.” Ordered the woman, and the soldier let it go, reluctantly. The spy then made several swift actions, putting the gun in his mouth and pulling the trigger. There was a brief fountain of blood before his body fell to the floor. There were gasps and yelled from the crowd, as the woman turned to the other spy, and said, “Now you.”
This time, Nicki saw the spy’s face clearly. The skin around his eyes was riddled with blue veins that stuck out, and his eyes were a tangled mess of blue tendrils beneath his lids. He took the gun form the corpse’s hand, and shot himself.
No one knew what to do. There was silence; Nicki wasn’t sure whether to cry, or to feel happy. There was a lingering sense of resentment towards the two spies, yet she couldn’t help but feel terrified. She felt Rick’s hand upon her shoulder.
Zeke looked at Nate, who was looking down at the corpse at his feet, blood slowly pooling around its head.
“Get rid of the bodies. I need to find Cynthia. Now.” With that he turned tail and strode towards the Archives. He could hear the grunts from two of the Wyverns following him with the corpses over their shoulders, yet he continued on down the red carpeted hallway and into the archives to find a shadows figure sat with her back to the door.
Cynthia turned when Zeke stood at her side, a solemn look on her face.
“I know what I need to do.” She said. She was about to continue when she turned and looked at the door and frowned.
Following her gaze, Zeke looked to where the two Wyverns had frozen, looking straight ahead, the corpses clasped with strong arms.
“What should we do with these?” one of them asked. Seth, Zeke thought his name was. He believed the other on was Rafe. The all looked the same.
“Erm...” uttered Cynthia, not angry or shocked, but strangely baffled. “Just out back? There’s a set of glass doors at the back of the archives.”
Zeke sighed and waited until they had disappeared into the sea of bookcases. “What is it you need to do?”
Cynthia shot him a sorrowful glance. “I need to go out there and talk to The Wynde first. But I know how to open the door. And you’re not going to like it. Even more so how this whole mess is related to Wyvern Industries. I don’t know why, but they did something to my ancestors.” She paused and stood, looking at Zeke.
“Whatever happens,” she whispered, placing a hand on his. “just don’t worry about me. Whatever happens to me, just know that I haven’t gone anywhere. I will always be part of The Wynde.”
Zeke was painfully aware of his heart beat speeding up, and he tightened his grip on her hand. “What are you planning to do?” he voice cracked slightly.
“Just...be there for me?”
He gazed into her deep grey eyes for a second before nodding away the sense of dread.
He grasped her hand, as if his had gone numb and he needed to know it was still there, as she led him from the room. It was as if his body was moving separately from his mind. He didn’t want to go out there. He didn't want to face the people. He suddenly didn't want Cynthia to lead the war. But just hours ago, he’d urged to her to.
How could he change his mind so fast? Was it that look of sorrow Cynthia had given him? Was it the way she seemed...so...ghost-like? When she’d left him, she’d seemed solemn for very different reasons. No, not sorrow, tired and reluctant. Now it was like she was walking towards the edge of a cliff. And she wasn’t slowing down.
They reached the main hall. The crowd parted to let them out and suddenly, everything was silent. The band wasn’t playing. In fact, Zeke could just see them trying to get good views form the other room, by standing on sofas. Cynthia let go of Zeke’s hand as she climbed the stairs. He still followed her, but when she rounded the corner to the balcony just above the main door, he stopped just above the door to the archives. He stared at her as she opened the doors and stepped out into the night, addressing the whole of The Wynde.
Despite her being outside, somehow, her voice was clear to everyone present. The thousands of people, hair of all colours, tattoos, guns strapped to their backs, denim jackets sowed together scruffily, the huge boots with big silver buckles, the many piercings and stretchers of their ears- everyone waited with baited breath. They were ready.
“Family, friends, descendents, peasants, the scum of the city. You are the people who I value most. We have been beaten, whipped, shot, scratched, discriminated, raped and murdered. For years, the pieces of shit that think they are safe in their houses have controlled us. To walk their turf is to be a disease. To go to their schools and have an education is to be unworthy. To pray to the same gods as they do is to blaspheme. For us to have three meals a day we are reduced to scavenging and stealing!”
Zeke watched as the crowd started to fume with energy.
“We were once equals. We once lived together, without segregation, without a hierarchy. We could all go to the church and pray, we could all go to the Mayor and have a say! We could all go to school, go to a University, have electricity, feed our children! We once walked the streets of this city living peaceful lives.
“Not Anymore! We will not be beaten. Thos of us who have fallen will be avenged. Those of us who have been raped and mugged, those of us who have had everything taken from them, those of us who cannot fall in love, who cannot have free will, those of us who have been forced to take part in something sinister...
“We will no longer be broken! We will take back a world that was once ours! We will regain the power, we will declare war. We will show them we are strong! We will come from the shadows and make their pearly white streets run black with blood! We will march tonight!”
The whole of The Wynde screamed in agreement.
“And a message to them! We are the unholy! We are the bastard sons of their material culture! Our souls are born of your exclusion! You hide behind the rotting foundations of your glass churches. We will show you that we cannot be killed!
“You cannot hide in the darkness, for we are the darkness!
“We are the abomination!
“We are the dirty and the unclean!
“And we. Cannot. Be. Killed!”
The Wynde erupted, holding torches aloft, fired round echoed into the night sky. Zeke saw the fire that had once burned in Gus’ eyes return. He saw Sam smile and raise his gun high. He saw the Wyverns look at each other with readied looks on their faces. He saw the hooded figure emerge from her hiding spot.
The people changed.
“They march when the Shamar appear!” Cynthia was suddenly next to him, holding his arm the pulling through the door behind him.
“So now you believe?”
“I do. And I think they know. When to door opens, you need to lead them! They will know what to do. Just point them in the right direction. The Wynde will know too. Everyone knows. I think everyone knew from the start and this is it!”
The two ran down a corridor, past the main sleeping quarters, towards an older part of the mansion. There was a doorway at the end of the corridor, and Cynthia burst through it.
The room was old. Very old. The furniture was covered in thick layers of dust. He could barely make out what the paintings were of on the wall.
One wall, however, was entirely empty, except for one huge tapestry. He had to look closer for a moment before he realised it was a map of the Crown Continent.
Cynthia grabbed one end and ripped it down. Behind it, build into the stone was the carving of the God of Duty.
“What is this?” Zeke uttered.
“Danin Duskgate learned a lot form Wyvern Industries. I don’t know what they were doing all those years ago, but he said he learned magic. He said the only way to open the door is Duskgate blood. I think the reason my parents are dead is that they tried to escape from Wyvern Industries. More than anything I want to know why. But right now, I know what I have to do.”
With out warning, Cynthia pulled a knife. From where, he didn't know. Maybe she’d been holding it all along. Maybe she’d had it since she came back from looking through the old archives. But all Zeke could do was watch the terrifying act of suicide Cynthia was about to perform.
He could only watch, eyes wide with terror as she stood with her back to him, her arm making one, swift movement. Blood splattered across the stone, and Cynthia fell to the floor.
Something fell from Zeke, it fell with Cynthia. It crashed to the floor, dead and numb.
He could only stand and stare at her body, her grey eyes empty. He reached for her, but he only ended up falling to his knees. He could only scoop her up in his arms. He couldn’t save her now.
He heard the sound of stone breaking, rubble falling and footsteps...many, many footsteps.
He looked up, through tears to see faces. Black war paint on pearly white skin. Eyes hard as stone, heavy black clothing and heavy black weapons to accompany them.
He watching them emerge from the darkness in thousands. Men, women, even kids; a whole civilisation that no one knew about, entire cities that were slaves to legend and rumour...
Zeke watching them, marching form the door and out, onto The Wynde. He slowly felt something changing within him. A strength that was arising from the depths of his soul. It bubbled from his throat in an inhuman growl and with it came a deep anger, a hatred more intense than anything he had ever felt!
He plucked Cynthia from the cold ground and pushed through the crowds of Shamar. He pushed through the hallways, past warriors waiting to wet their blades. He made his way down the stairs and through the door to the archives, ignoring the horrified gasps at both Cynthia and the Shamar. Once in the quiet solitude of the archives, he rested Cynthia’s body on one of the sofas, and stopped.
He held on to his hatred and anger. Another growl escaped his lips and once again, he felt the tinge of something different, something...not human inside him.
He made for the door.
Zeke strode down the hallway.
I need something. Something to...bite.
His hand was on the door knob.
He threw open to door.
A million eyes fell on him.
“The Black Parade marches!”
The people of The Wynde yelled. He saw the Shamar mix with the crowd, knowing what to do as if it was ingrained in their DNA.
Guns raised, lights shining, warriors, survivors and slaves moved in unison.
At that moment, an entire region was one.
Part 3: The Black Parade
4 Generations ago...
Heartlib approached the gates at the top of the hill and sighed as he laid eyes on their elaborate design. He gazed up at the golden tipped spikes and the detailed metal work on the family crest; something that could only have cost an awful lot. Of course, his brother’s arrogance could reach no bounds. Making his way through the gates, Heartlib began to be painfully aware of just how much his brother had spent on this place. The trees- all ever green ferns and yew trees- the gravel of the incredibly long drive way, the looming black figure of the mansion in the distance. He could see just how comfortable his brother had gotten here in Tyrell.
And once again, Heartlib was all the more aware of the letter, sealed in Arcanouwa wax, in the pocket of his waist coat. Pulling his cloak around him, it dawned on him the the job he came here to do would be so much more difficult.
Not only was his brother incredibly arrogant, but his stubbornness was a force to be reckoned with!
The mansion itself only increased Heartlib’s doubt. The sense of urgency rose as he rang the doorbell; a long rope with a golden hook displaying a pattern of vines and roses. At first there was no answer, and Heartlib stood back, looking up at the intimidating architecture that started down at him.
A moment more and the door creaked open, behind of which stood a frail-looking maid. She gestured and Heartlib stepped past her into the main hall. It was huge, something that could only have come from his brother’s creative mind! The stairways on either side coiled all the way around the top of the room, overlooking another room through cloisters to the left and another smaller room to the right. The heavy mahogany of the structure weighed upon Heartlib, and no longer able to distract his thoughts, he rehearsed what he was about to tell his brother.
“If you would kindly wait here, please.” The maid muttered and shuffled towards a door directly opposite.
The then Heartlib was alone. Alone with the prospect of what he was about to say to Davin.
He loved his brother, but what he had to do would probably tear them both apart. Not that Davin hadn’t tried to instigate that already. On the contrary, Davin made his feelings very clear the moment he abandoned Heartlib. But even so...
The door opened and Heartlib found himself looking at Davin. It sometimes felt strange to look at someone who looked exactly like you; it was as if he was a mirror. It was quite apt, considering the fact that they were opposites, yet looked exactly alike.
“Heartlib! So good to see you!” Davin said, a sense of happiness forced into his tone and a fake smile plastered across his face. “Do you like what I’ve done with the place?”
Heartlib returned the smile, but only fleetingly. “It’s very...elaborate. Even for Duskgate standards.”
Davin laughed. “Ah, you know me and the family have never quite seen eye to eye. So, what brings you to Tyrell?”
Heartlib paused. “You need to come back to Arcanouwa.”
Davin tensed. “Why should I go back?”
“Because if you stay in Tyrell, they’re going to kill you.”
There was a lingering moment of silence. “You know why I chose Tyrell to settle in?” Davin asked, relaxing slightly.
Heartlib shook his head.
“Not just because our family was based here back in the old days. But because it’s the people. Something is beginning to happen here, Heartlib. There’s a clear divide beginning to happen, and I care about the people who live on The Wynde.” He looked at Heartlib.
“You really believe the stories?”
“I do. We are the descendents. And the things happening in the city right as we speak leads to the uprising. I have to stay and protect it! It is my duty!”
Heartlib reached into his pocket and pulled out the letter, “A price has been placed on your head. If you don’t leave with me now, they will come and destroy you!”
“I don’t care about them. I care nothing for science!”
Heartlib pushed the letter at Danin. “Please. If I can’t convince you, then you will die!”
“Then I will die! Science does not matter to me anymore! I need to prepare.”
“Prepare for what?”
Danin flashed Heartlib a smile. “Come, brother.”
He led Heartlib to the door directly opposite. He followed Danin down the red carpeted hallway to a huge room, filled to the brim with books crammed into bookcases.
Heartlib stared, open mouthed! There must be over a million tomes in this room!
“And these are just the less valuable ones. I keep all the precious texts in a room deeper in the mansion.”
“Just, how big is this house you built?” Heartlib sat on a sofa in the clearing of the forest of books.
“Very. Careful you don’t get lost. Even I do sometimes.” Danin sat opposite.
“Anyway, there’s talk of moving the operation up to Guarda. Or part of it. They say the studies can go even further! Think of the opportunities!”
Danin wrinkled his nose like a child. “I do not care, Heartlib. Remember what they did to us in Arcanouwa? Those months in those tiny rooms with only a slither of light and mashed food twice a day?”
“Yes, but we’ve come so far since then!”
“It was torture!”
“It was progress!”
Silence fell momentarily.
“And they’re still doing that to people?” asked Danin.
“As we speak. But people are better off for it! I heard they actually artificially created a human being that was stronger, faster and even immortal! They called it a Wyvern, after the company. Imagine an army of enhanced human beings!”
“No. It’s not natural. We’ll be swimming in freaks soon enough.”
“We are not freaks!”
“We are and you know it! Our family is cursed, Heartlib. In more ways than one. Our duty is to protect the Shamar. We are Descendents. That is a curse in itself. Yet now...after what they did to us! You realise our descendents will be cursed also!”
Heartlib sighed. “You heard what they said, right? As long as it remains dormant, no one will know. And it will remain dormant.”
Danin paused. “We are freaks. And people should see what Wyvern Industries has done to us. It may surprise you, but I know a thing or two about the magic they perform there.”
“Science. Not magic.”
“No matter what it is, no one can stop my plans. So you can take your letter back to Wyvern Industries and I can sit and relax.”
Heartlib’s heart sank. “So you’re going to give up and die? You’re going to sit here and make me watch as my brother is killed?”
Danin shot him a flat look. “Yes.”
Heartlib sighed. He left the letter on the end table and left, slowly. He couldn’t do anything to save him now. Both Danin and his precious legends were done for. There were no more Descendents, there were no Shamar, and if there was going to be anyone to set them free from fiction, there certainly wasn’t now.
4 generations later...
The Mayor shouted orders down the phone. Whoever he was shouting at wasn’t doing his job fast enough! The lights were moving down The Wynde. They were coming. And he was going to die! They were coming for him!
But it was ok, because he had the armed forces to protect Boundary, right? They’d keep Boundary safe? Wouldn’t they?
“Guards!” he yelled to the door. A guard appeared in the threshold. “I want five armed guards to protect me!”
“But sir...” the guard mumbled. “You sent them all to the border. The rest are trying to evacuate Boundary. There’s just two of us left.”
“Then get in here and protect me!”
“Yes sir.” The other guard appeared and joined the Mayor in the room. One of the guards was young, barely in his 20s with a fresh face that looked as though he’d never seen action. His pistol was holstered and to his back was strapped a rifle. How could he look so relaxed? The other guard was much older, maybe in his 40s, middle-aged at least. Yet he still looked old. Was he fit for duty? Could he still fight? Maybe he was too old? Maybe he was too old to fight!
“Get Wyvern Industries and tell them to send that weapon that I gave them the go-ahead for. Say it is an emergency and I need immediate protection!”
“But, sir, that’s...top secret! It was scheduled to be finished several years from now!”
The Mayor sat in silence, praying to the God of Death. May he not be thrown into Oblivion and may he rest in peace forever!
The realisation was slowly sinking in, that Boundary was doomed. The night was almost at First moon. 18 more hours to go and they’d see sunrise. But would he still be alive?
He hoped to make it to midnight at least, maybe even Last moon.
What ever mistake was made all those centuries ago, how the Mayor wished he could resolve it! Oh, how he wished!
“What happened to Cynthia? What happened to her, answer me Goddammit!” yelled Gus, following Zeke down The Wynde. Sam and The Wyverns were hot on their heels.
There was something about Zeke that made Sam uneasy. He wasn’t the calm, cool Zeke they’d known just hours ago. His dark eyes had lightened to an iridescent yellow and glowed. Something about his face had changed.
“Gone? Fuck, man, we needed her!” Gus yelled.
“It doesn’t matter. What matters is getting rid of these mother fuckers once and for all!”
“We can’t do this without Cynthia!”
“Don’t you see?” yelled Zeke, stopping, people continuing to run past him. “She is the only reason we are running down this hill right now! She is now an idea, an idea that will bring us out of this alive! Do not let her sacrifice be in vein! Now, turn around and lets go kill some faggots!”
Gus stood defiantly for a moment, before turning tail. Sam and the Wyverns followed them. Despite what Zeke had said, Sam thought it didn't feel as though Cynthia had truly gone. And the more he looked round at the newcomers, the more he started to remember things...
His thoughts were muffled by the yells and cried of the crowds. It soon became to packed, that turning back was no longer an option. Everywhere, people pressed against him, all moving in one direction.
I know that war paint...
Above him, he saw a woman running along a catwalk with two kids in tow, all three were carrying guns. Sam had had years of watching children grow up learning how to shoot guns, and yet, somehow to see a child with heavy equipment like that seemed...wrong.
I know that deep black, those boots...
All around him he saw flashes of pale faces. Angry eyes. Lips held in animalistic snarls.
It can’t be!
Staring straight ahead, Sam thought he caught a glimpse of Pain, smiling a toothy grin at him.
It’s them! The magic!
In sudden realisation, Sam gasped and gripped his weapons hard. In truth, these warriors whom The Wynde thought were their allies could, in fact, be the exact opposite!
The truth was that no one really knew who they were running into battle with.
Nicki gripped Ricks hand as they hid in the bushes. Blood dripped into her eye from the march down. Nicki had been carried along with the tide, scooped up by the crush of bodies and swept away. If it wasn’t for Rick, she would probably have been trampled to death! She could have sworn she’d seen a bloody face pressed into the stone with its entrails ripped out.
The killing had already started...
And they hadn’t even stepped out of The Wynde yet.
And then Rick was there, plucking her from the violence, hauling her up to a catwalk above. Since then, they’d followed the procession, staying out of its way. And now, as the people lined up on the border to the City Centre, the two of the crouched in a nearby bush, staying safe.
“When they run, stay close.” Mumbled Rick.
“Okay.” Breathed Nicki. She watched them, fidgeting, itching to destroy something. A man in bike leathers turned a base ball bat that had nails hammered into the end in his hands. A tall woman with pink dreadlocks couldn’t help but click the safety on and off her gun. One man even had a flame thrower strapped to his front. This man was one of the Shamar. You could tell by the war paint.
It still amazed Nicki how they’d appeared from nowhere, coming from above to join the battle. They’d marched straight out of the mansion and down the hill, and everyone from The Wynde had followed automatically, as if it was their programming!
She looked at the empty City Centre, the only form of life were the small figures of authorities. Yet as The Wynde waited, the more of the Boundary police Nicki could see. The wore the same, black uniform and carried regulation guns; a pistol and a single shot gun. She guessed they carried knives too.
A figure emerged from the crowd and Nicki recognised him as Zeke, the man who’d dealt with the spies.
He stood a moment, his eyes glowing in the light from the street lamps, his hands open in a claw like position, ready to strike.
She heard the sound of a radio crackle in the distance. Why weren’t the police doing anything? Where were they all? She’s have thought there would have been more than this! An army to fight an army! Without two sides a battle wasn’t a battle. It was a slaughter.
There was a yell from the crowd. In the second, that one yell turned into a million yells for freedom.
People ran, shot guns, glass shattered through the streets. People were awoken from their beds as chaos erupted in the streets below! Rick pulled Nicki from the bush and the two ran through the violence.
“Where are we going?” shouted Nicki.
“If we stay still, we’ll get caught in the fray!”
He pulled Nicki through the streets. Everywhere she looked, people shot at shop fronts, kicking out goods that were seen as valuable to those on Boundary. Warriors gathered around hiding police who’d tried to flee or fight and showered them with bullets and punches and stabs. Some who lived in the City Centre were emerging from their homes to find trees and shrubs on fire, buildings destroyed in the fiery anger of the sea of black that swept up the hill, gradually getting to the border. Nicki looked back in horror at groups of warriors kicking the shit into helpless shop owners.
And the border was where she found herself next, gazing up the streets dotted with black figures. A flurry of soldiers jogged past, followed by people from The Wynde, and Rick pulled Nicki to the side. They waited for a second, before they started to hear screams amid the war cries and gun fire.
“Come on! We’ll be safe at the top!” breathed Rick, pulling Nicki along.
Yet the farther they ran, the more Nicki saw, and the more she saw, the more she hated The Wynde and Boundary and...
Kids helping warriors throw buckets of black paint onto houses, women pulled from their beds and taken onto the streets, lined up and shot in the head from behind, piles of bodies being burned along with books and statues of the old and new gods. She saw a group of men wearing denim jackets with the sleeves ripped off gathered around a street lamp where they were raising a body hung from rope. She heard the crazed laughing of teens who’d barely survived for years finally getting to blow up the fancy vehicles by shooting at the petrol tank. House fires. More bodies. Dead children and babies, still holding teddy bears with bloody hands, faces frozen in eternal anguish and confusion.
Finally, Nicki closed her eyes, drowned out the laughter and the cries for help and sorrowful lamentations. She just let the current take her.
She was face down. Cold pressed against her body on all sides. So cold, it felt wet against her face. Wait...
There was something on her chest...wait...my chest.
Yes, my chest. I can see myself lying there.
It’s warm...it feels so warm on my chest and on my cheek. I think I’ll sleep for a bit longer.
But, wait...I can hear something! Crying? Who’s crying? Do they need help? Should I go help? But, I’m so warm!
No! They need my help! I just need to wake up!
To wake up and to push through!
Zeke wasn’t himself. He only caught glimpses of what he was doing, faces being sliced in two, blood running down drains like rain water. In front of him, he caught flashes of hands with claws and could hear growls...like a wolf’s.
But not from him...surely?
But time was going so fast! He captured a glance at his companions. Sam, with a face of mild worry, looking from left to right, and then at Zeke. He saw Gus, who was busy carrying out executions on Boundary citizens. And he glimpsed the Wyverns, shooting and fighting men who thought they could take on the army...the types of family men, who would do anything for their innocent babies.
Wait! Innocent babies?
But he couldn’t stop! He was nearly there! As his vision tunnelled, all that was in his mind was the bright light at the top of the hill. The resonating beacon of a sinister form of sanctuary, a light that tried too hard to convince it’s people of safety.
A cold, unwelcoming light.
And following him were torrents of screams and bloodied warriors all wanting the same end as Zeke, with a little added chaos.
Sam tried to keep up with Zeke, but it was as though his mind was only set on reaching Horizon House. On either side, fires burned, fuelled by homes and corpses and screams of battle could still be heard in the distance.
Was it really battle? Or was it more genocide? He’d marched towards Boundary convinced they were going to war, but in all honesty, was this really a just fight? He’d seen dead babies and children piled up at the curbs. He’d seen mothers holding their kids in their arms as they were pulled apart and forced to watch each other being shot in the head!
What was this, if not war?
Horizon House was upon them. But something wasn’t right.
“Where are all the guards? Surely they’d have thought to protect their Mayor!” Sam shouted over the ruckus to the others.
“I was thinking that too!” replied Gus, slowing down. “And did you see the police on the edge of Boundary? There were so few! And loads of houses were empty of their inhabitants! I think they’ve tried to evacuate!”
It made sense.
“Well, we still go in, and if he’s not there, then we secure the building and search for him. He has to come out some time!” Nate suggested.
Sam and Gus nodded.
Horizon House looked oddly pale and ominous in the dark. The group stomped over the flower beds and the neatly trimmed bushes towards the front door.
“Right, we need a plan.” Said Nate as the others nodded. However, the sounds of shattering gas and the glimpse Sam caught of Zeke leaping in through the window caused alarms to start from within. A red light started to flash, causing shadows to dance in fire on the lawn.
“Right, scratch that! Wyverns! On the roof! Kayla, you go in with us! Come on! We have to find him!” yelled Nate. Everyone sprang into order.
Sam ran after Nate, hurling himself through the shattered window, narrowly dodging the sharp glass, and landing with a thump in the darkness. There were two similar thumps behind him, and he turned to see Gus and Kayla.
“This way!” whispered Nate in the silence. Why was it so quiet? And why was no one here? He had expected to see guards everywhere, scurrying about in the emergency.
The four made their way out into a dark hallway. It was just past Midnight, so there was no moon; the night was at it’s peak of darkness. Until, however, Nate took a lighter from a pocket and clicked the flame to life. The dim orange light held back some of the shadows, but dark corners still remained.
There came a clatter from upstairs and the sound of furniture being knocked over. Nate and Kayla were quick to act, moving like shadows, always in a combat stance, guns out in front of them. Sam and Gus lagged behind, following them up a wide stair case and through a huge door with lavish decor.
Nate and Kayla paused outside, listening to the clatters and thumps getting louder and more frequent.
“1...2...” whispered Nate. “3!”
The two Wyverns burst in, to find Zeke pinned to the floor while a man dressed like a guard repeatedly hit his bloody face.
There was a terrified cry from across the room.
“Behind you!” shouted a deep voice, and another guard emerged from the shadows.
This one was different. He was tall, taller than the average human, and he wore gear similar to Nate and Kayla’s, except there were no metal bands around his wrists or ankles. Without warning, he leapt into the air, one fit raised.
Nate shot at him, yet as the bullets tore up the front of his body, he did not waver, and brought his fist down onto Nate. It was then that Sam noticed the two small tanks on it’s back with a glowing liquid inside.
“Gus, help Zeke!” yelled Sam, aiming for the tanks. He was too slow, however, as the soldier stood over Nate and looked at Kayla, who was getting ready to leap. The guard looked towards her as she pounced into the air and landed behind him, kicking out before he had time to turn. The guard landed face first onto the floor. As he got to his knees, Nate kicked him in the stomach. The guard rolled away and as Kayla and Nate went towards him, the guard grabbed Nate by the head, and kicked at Kayla with his leg. To Sam’s horror, the guard slammed Nate’s head into the wall, letting him fall to the floor, leaving a huge crack in the plaster.
A gun shot came from behind Sam, yet in the chaos, he didn’t have time to see where it came from. The guard was suddenly in front of Sam, knocking his gun from his hands and sending him flying into a bookshelf. Kayla and Nate got up slowly, and Sam tried his best to ignore the pounding pain flaring through his body. The guard, however, turned slowly, taking something from a belt on his waist.
It was a small, silver object, yet when the guard flicked it, the object lengthened dramatically, the glint of a dangerous blade shining in the darkness. The guard sliced it through the air with a metallic shing!
Kayla dodged suddenly as the guard moved towards them, yet Nate reached out with a fist, aiming for his sword hand. Sam heard the squelch of flesh and saw a huge gash in Nate’s arm. Kayla then did the same.
There was another squelch of soft tissue. Followed by a heavy thump. And a painful cry.
All Sam saw was a bloody hand on the floor, still wearing a thick silver band around it’s wrist...
“Wait! Rick, there’s something going on in there! Listen!” cried Nicki, looking up at the largest window of Horizon House.
Rick listened to the cries and the heavy thumps.
“I think that was where Zeke went!”
Rick looked at Nicki. “Then the best place for us is away from here!”
“But...they may need our help!”
“Are you insane? Those are the Wyverns in there, probably! And Ezekiel! You’ve heard the stories about him, right?”
Nicki sighed. “Yes, but what if they die? What if they fail! Then we’ll all be for Delphius!”
Rick just looked at her, dumbfounded.
“Look, I know it sounds strange and we’ve basically just encouraged a mass genocide, but what’s better? Failing now and everyone headed for the Boiling Sea? Or, surviving, as we always have done. I’m not proud of what anyone’s done today, but I don’t want to go to prison!”
Rick just nodded, solemnly.
“What happened to you, Nicki? You used to be so...so...”
Nicki led Rick into Horizon House, without another word.
Kayla was changing. Her body became more lean and her skin turned a ghostly white. Her eyes turned yellow and fangs could be seen forming behind her black lips. She looked almost...animal!
And what amazed him even more, was the regeneration of flesh around her severed hand! The flesh was reforming, as if in fast forwards! In seconds, she had a new, pale hand, complete with razor sharp claws!
Sam looked to Nate, who was looking down at his own metal bands! “Nate? What the fu-”
He felt the wind get blown out of him. His vision blurred and he was on the floor, a huge, black figure standing over him.
He just found himself looking into those black eyes before Pain was next to him, smiling. The world turned black and white, as if something has suddenly flipped everything! Nothing made sense anymore. All he could do was lie there, with the force of something immense weighing on his chest.
Nate followed suit. He took a knife from his ankle and with one, sweeping motion, cut through his wrist with enhanced strength!
As far as he was concerned, breaking the band like Kayla’s had done the first time, would take too long.
And then he felt it, like a tonne of bricks hitting him right in the face! The force of something changing and moulding! He felt his body grow, bones breaking and reshaping. He felt he could move with a freedom he’d never had before!
He took one look at the guard, and pounced in a way he never had before! He looked at Kayla, who’d gone for his legs, bringing him crashing to the floor. Nate leapt onto his chest and dug his claws into his shoulder, tearing his arm away. Kayla appeared next to him.
Their eyes met.
They both knew what to do.
Nate looked down and sunk his clawed hand into the guys chest, tearing away his heart.
He looked up at Kayla who had her hand raised, his head firmly clutched there.
Zeke looked up at the mess.
He’d watched Gus jump in front of the bullet that would have killed him. He’d watched himself tear the guard limb from limb and jump to the next one; the one who’d hid in the shadows. Zeke had seen his head flung out of the stain-glass window.
And then he’d laid eyes on the two Wyverns, crouching over the tall guard, covered in blood.
To his surprise, they’d stood, the inhuman features that made them look so...unnerving retreated a bit. He was about to ask, when a pained mumbled came from the back of the room. Zeke turned and saw blood pooling on the carpet.
Sam was lying on the floor, a tall, silver sword impaled in his chest.
“Shit!” he gasped, kneeling.
“What happened...to...Gus?” his voice was hoarse, and almost indecipherable.
“We...didn’t see...where’s Gus?” asked Nate.
Zeke looked at the body that lay in the furthest corner of the room.
“Ah, crap!” sighed Nate. “What can we do! There aren’t any hospitals! Not now!”
“It’s the price...we all have to pay.” Zeke said blankly. “I’m sorry, Sam.”
“Is Gus dead?” asked Sam, obviously not aware of what had happened to him.
“Yeah. He took a bullet for me.”
Sam laid his head back. “He’s...ok. He’s with...Amelia now.”
“Sam, we’re sorry...”
Sam smiled a bloody smile. “It’s ok. Don’t sorry, I won’t be gone long...” Blood dribbled from the corner of his mouth and his eyes became vacant. Zeke closed his eyes.
“See?” came a shaky voice from the darkness. All three of them turned, ready to fight again. It was, however, not needed.
“See what you’ve done! You filth! You come here and kill all of us! I knew! I knew it was going to happen!” the mayor stepped out of the shadows, his white suit illuminated by the dancing lights from outside. Zeke slowly started to notice the rising shouts and cries from the streets below.
“You murders!” the mayor moved towards the door, as if to run. Zeke knew he wouldn’t get too far. “You monsters!
The mayor’s eyes turned blue and small blue veins started to glow beneath his skin, around his eyes. Zeke could see the fear on his face; he was trying to struggle, but couldn’t.
He moved to the side, letting a hooded figure walk past. Taking her hood down, Zeke saw it was the bronze-haired girl form earlier.
“You’re going to jump out of that window, and into the crowd. They will decide your fate.” She said, her tone cold.
The mayor went to the window, each step for him painful. He hovered for a moment, before reaching for the latch and opening the full-length piece of art work that portrayed one of the Gods. It was impossible to tell which on, however, as there was already a shattered hole in it, from when Kayla had thrown a severed head out of it.
The mayor teetered on the edge. And then he was gone. In one, heavy movement, Zeke could hear the crowd scream their animal cries.
And then there was a strange silence.
As I made my way up the hill, I had to try very hard to hold back the urge to vomit. Everywhere blood, everywhere bodies, everywhere black.
There were still people from The Wynde dotted about, yet the further I got to the top of the hill, the thicker the crowd got. And yet, I still saw children and babies lying dead in the street, people hung from lamp posts, houses burned to the ground and smoke rising before the second moon.
People moved aside as I approached Horizon House. I had, however, noticed the amount of Warren warriors that were present. Most seemed very well in tune with the people of The Wynde, but what worried me was how little of them there actually were. In the legends, it had said there would be thousands!
The door to Horizon House was open, and the people parted for me. I couldn’t look at them. I just couldn’t! I already felt disgusted enough.
The room at the top of Horizon House, the one that faced Duskgate Mansion, was a mess. I saw Gus first. The first soldier that came to me; the first to die for what he believed. He would be remembered.
The second was Zeke and the two Wyverns. The Wyverns looked different, however. They looked...free.
Where the other three Wyverns were, I didn’t know. All three of them had the same expressions. Shock. Horror. Surprise. Anger.
And then I saw Sam on the floor. Behind him stood a girl whom I hadn’t met. Yet somehow, I could tell she was one of us. She gave me a feeling that I would later come to recognise.
I stepped over to Sam and pulled the huge sword from his chest and dropped it. I looked back at Zeke.
“You want to know how?”
Zeke just nodded.
“The truth is I don’t know. It has something to do with what my ancestor, Danin Duskgate brought back from Wyvern Industries. Something that, I believe has something to do with all these...anomalies.”
“But...I saw you...the blood!” he stammered. I stepped close to him and took his hand.
“I know. I am sorry, but it needed to be you. I had to be you.”
Zeke looked down. “You...used me?”
I looked into his lupine face. “I did. I’m sorry, but you would never have accomplished the things you have now if you hadn’t have seen me die.”
He went quiet.
I sensed a presence at the door and turned.
There was that feeling again...
There was a girl and a boy stood in the doorway. The girl had curly black hair and the boy had tall liberty spikes. They both looked incredibly saddened. Not frightened, but just...sad.
“What happens now?” asked the girl.
“We carry on, Nicki, we carry on.” I said.
“How did you know my name?” she asked.
“I don’t know.” I replied.
I turned to the open window, and the people waiting outside. I spoke to them.
“Burn the dead! Clean the streets! Let’s make this a city again!”
The battle ended in the cries of the freed.
There was a strained gasp from the floor, and Sam sat up, his chest baring no sign of a wound. “Told you I wouldn’t be gone long!”
Nicki could see the funeral pyre from Horizon House. It was in the city centre, but with the amount of dead, it’s flames burned brighter than the sunrise that was looming above Duskgate Mansion.
“So,” Nicki said, turning to the four Wyverns. They didn’t look as tense as they had done. In fact, they looked rather relaxed. “You like, body guards?”
“Something like that.” Smiled Nate.
“OK. And, why did Cynthia leave me in charge again?”
The fifth Wyvern, the one that they’d found in Tarragon Industries (or so Nate had said), smiled. “She said something about you being the source of hope. She said she had a ‘feeling’ about you. She said you are hope. I have no idea what that means, but it’s Cynthia. Everyone goes along with it.”
Nicki smiled back at Corey. “Where’s Rick?”
“He’s with Sam, burying Gus at the cemetery.”
“So, where have Cynthia and Zeke buggered off to?”
“We have absolutely no idea.” Replied Nate.
“Ok, so, what do we do now? I have no idea how to run a city!” she leaned on her hands, feeling lost.
“That’s why we’re here. Along side getting Tarragon Industries to carry on their research, we’re here to keep order and help you out. Like you’re council.” Smiled Kayla.
“Research into how we were created,” explained Nate. “And just what Wyvern Industries are doing.”
“And I wouldn’t really call it a city anymore either.” Said Corey. “We got rid of at least half the population!”
Nicki sighed, leaning back in the mayor’s chair. “No one’s really gonna come here anymore, are they? I think everyone apart from The Wynde and the Shamar will probably leave.”
She thought for a moment.
“Ok. We’ll have new rules. We know how to survive. We now have the city to ourselves. We know how to supply a city with food and water, how to create a main source of income. We’ve lived on The Wynde. We can now live in real homes, in a real city.”
“And you know what you’re gonna do?” Corey looked at her.
“Of course.” She smiled. “I’m the source of hope, remember?”
“I hear the wars over.”
“They won’t come back, will they?”
“Hm, well then, they are leaving us down here, they are traitors to their own people. And to Ana!”
“I told them! I said that we should not emerge from the Warrens! I said we have no part in their war and that we were banished for a reason! Well, now they are no longer welcome down here. Block all entrances and exits. We will no longer step one foot outside of our domain!”
“They are no longer Shamar!”
“And the one that Ana gave her gift to?”
“Let him struggle. He’ll soon go looking for death. And when he does, he’ll soon be back.”
“So, it looked like Tyrell’s little war is over.” Crip smiled at the man on the bed. He looked over at the computer screen that blurted out results and vitals and information of all sorts. The man on the bed didn’t move. He was too weak to move! All these tests and research...
Crip glanced at the leather restraints around his ankles, wrists, chest and head and wondered briefly if this man could escape.
No. Why would this man want to escape? He’d been with the company for over a century! Although, the rumours about the extent of this man’s abilities were starting to travel a little further a field.
Crip didn’t like that.
But it couldn’t be helped. This man was doing a service for the company! If anyone should be given respect around here, it should be this man.
Crip pressed a button on a remote control and the bed moved slowly to a vertical position, , moving backwards into a gap in the wall. Machines were set into the wall, and when the bed clicked into place, the screens and little tanks of fluid lit up.
Oh yes, this man was probably the company’s most valuable, most successful piece of research! Pity his twin was dead; that would have made for an even bigger achievement.
The man mumbled softly.
Crip turned to a small screen that Broadcasted images from satellites. On it, it showed images of the destruction in Tyrell. He admired the device for a second, congratulating both himself and the company silently on their development of the technology.
He looked back at the man, whose face resembled a sadness that bordered on despair. Crip had only ever seen this man look so solemn when they ran the tests. The rest of the time, he just looked resigned. As if ready to give up.
“Oh, I know.” Crip said, leaning on the machinery next to his vertical bed. “It’s awful, isn’t it! I wonder how much of the population is dead already?”
The man let out an agonizing sigh.
“Oh, I forgot your origins lie with this city. Let’s hope none of your ancestors got caught in the fray. We wouldn’t want to waste such valuable, conveniently hereditary talents!”
The man struggled. “My...ancestors are...cursed. They would have...away...out by now...”
“Oh, I doubt that, friend. I doubt they even know anything about us.” Crip flashed a toothy grin.
“Bastard...” the man whispered in his hoarse voice.
“You know, I wish we could go back to being friends again! I enjoyed that time!” Crip sighed. “Anyway, it’s time to move out. we’re going on a little holiday. To Guarda. Well, specifically North of Guarda, but that’s just details, so there won’t be a lot to see. Well, snow, but that’s about it. But, I'm sure we’ll enjoy it. Both of us!”
With that, Crip pushed a button on the machinery and watched as the man was sedated. He then touched a button on the panel that put him in touch with one of his organizers.
“Sir?” a high-pitched male voice sounded through a com. Crip hated using this inferior technology, but it wouldn’t be for long. Soon, he’d have free-reign, and be able to push the company to it’s full potential.
“Ready the cargo. Send people to collect this one. But be careful. Make sure this one of secure. He’s valuable. I want the convoy to leave tomorrow.”
There was a squeak and the line went dead. Crip went to the door, smiling to himself.
Princeton had failed. The Commander had failed.
It was time to take his project somewhere where he could make sure they succeeded!
He peered back into the room at the sleeping man.
“See you soon, Heartlib.”
Tag der Veröffentlichung: 09.02.2014
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