Here is a short story I wrote for Chuck Wendig’s weekly flash fiction challenge. We had to choose an opening sentence and run with it … or write a two thousand word story for it. Whatever we chose. I decided to write a story. I wouldn’t want to show you how I run with an opening sentence. It looks weird!
Anyway, for my prompt, I used the sentence my friend, PD, wrote: “The Dark God rose behind her, quietly building the fury it would unleash.” It might be the best part of the story. You decide.
The Dark God
By Ada Ireland
The Dark God rose behind her, quietly building the fury it would unleash. Tessa felt his presence right away and her hand tightened on the hilt of her sword. She fought the urge to draw it out. Not yet, she thought to herself.
“I didn’t come here to fight you,” she said without turning around. “The seer sent me. I have the blood you need.” Her words came out like wavering sounds that got absorbed in the heavy mass of his wrath. She hated that her voice showed some of her fear. As a warrior, she had faced death many times but never felt as unprepared for it as she was now. Today, she was a sacrificial lamb and every bone in her body rebelled at the thought of giving up her life without a fight.
She took a deep breath. “It’s not a trap,“ she said. “Not like the first time. I’ll die a cursed death if she was wrong … You already know that.”
No words came from him. She wondered if he would just strike her dead before she could say anything else. She started to turn.
“DON’T … MOVE”, he finally spoke. Tessa heard him clearly but kept turning. His fury exploded in a deafening shout, “DON’T!” and its powerful shocks sent her flying through the air. She landed with a low thud against the stone wall of the temple. After moments of complete numbness, pain gripped her entire body. She felt blood trickling from a corner of her mouth and wiped it with the back of her hand. The motion made her cringe.
She forced herself up to her feet slowly and straightened her body. Her jaw clenched and her breath came out in low grunts from the effort it took to stand tall. She looked up and, for the first time, saw his face. She understood then why most mortals cowered before gods. He looked magnificent. His energy, his essence were too intense to be contained in a body, even an immortal one. They expanded outside of him and imposed their rhythm on his surroundings. With the waves of insane anger and unbridled power pouring out of him, she doubted even other gods wouldn’t feel intimidated. She squared her shoulders.
Sorem looked at her with eyes like liquid silver with flecks of black, molten lava pulsating through them. The Darkness that is trying to overtake him, she thought. With slow, deliberate movements she took off her helmet. Her face was completely revealed to him then and she braced herself for death.
The black lava flooded his eyes instantly and everything inside and outside of her started throbbing from the intensity of his murderous rage. Tendrils of an eerie chill spread out around her. They didn’t come from him. She could feel another presence. An oppressing, ancient evil. She was in the middle of an epic battle, and not a single sword had been drawn out yet.
Time and space trembled. They seemed ready to disintegrate, completely vanish. A single word or the wrong gesture would obliterate everything.
“I’m not like Arda,” she said with effort. “I give you my word. I am the one whose blood can still save you … save us all.”
The evil chill got heavier. The Dark God didn’t move. He kept looking at her with those unblinking, black laden eyes. “Look at my face,” she continued. “Look and remember. You know me. You’ve seen me in your seer’s visions. I can help you conquer the Darkness.”
His eyes kept pulsating black. She wasn’t reaching him. Her own fury and determination were building up to dangerous levels. Mortal or not, she still had a say in this battle. She still had a choice of how to die.
Her left hand reached for Stas, the mystical dagger forged by Alom himself. The God of all things, living and non-living, mortal and immortal, Alom had formed the dagger in the same fire that had given birth to the universe and life. Stas wasn’t just a weapon, it was the only way to complete the three part Ritual that, for mere seconds, made gods and men equal.
Since the beginning of time, all mortals bowed to the twelve gods and, by Alom’s design, each one of the twelve gods bowed to one mortal – their mate. Seers spent most of their lives looking for these special human beings, the Halves as they were called. Sometimes centuries passed before a new Half was born, sometimes even more time than that. When a Half was found, she was brought to her god to receive part of his blood and become an immortal.
With Arda, Darkness found a way to weaken the gods. It used men’s greed and desire for power and made them foolish enough to trick Sorem into believing that Arda was his Half. The blood that was supposed to make her immortal entered her body like venom and made her burn from the inside into a slow, agonizing death. Sorem’s own blood became poisoned with Darkness, and made him change into the Dark God. Even Alom couldn’t cleanse Sorem’s blood. Not without destroying him. Sorem was left to fight the poison on his own. Once truly overcome by Darkness, there would be no turning back for him. And that would only be the beginning of a nightmare.
Tessa’s hand squeezed the dagger’s handle and felt it’s Magik laced tip press against the center of her palm. She looked at Sorem. “Maybe you’re ready to give up fighting Darkness,” she shouted, “but I’m not!”
Without hesitation, she let the dagger’s tip pierce her hand completely. Magik rushed through her blood with the force of hurricane winds. It gave her the supernatural power of a god. She knew it wouldn’t be long before the same Magik would kill her. With her right hand she drew out her sword. It all happened faster than the blink of an eye. Then all hell broke loose.
With a savage cry, Sorem attacked her. Their swords clashed. Without Magik in her blood, the blows of his sword would have shattered her. The air grew colder. The cold gained mass, pressing on her heart and making it hard to breath. She kept parrying Sorem’s blows. Her sword served as a mere shield in this fight, as a tool to block him. It had no power to hurt a god. Every time it reached his body, it slid off like a useless stick. She had to find a way to use the dagger. Even that couldn’t kill Sorem, but its blade could weaken him enough to draw the blood Tessa needed.
She wasn’t able to get close enough to him and time was running out.
With each blow she checked she took a step backwards until she felt the wall pressing against her back. She was trapped. Sorem would kill her and, without the Ritual, her death would be in vain.
She parried one last blow then, just before the next one came, she threw away her sword and switched the dagger into her right hand with the speed of lightning. Sorem’s sword met no resistance. It just slashed the air and made him lose his balance for a moment. It was the break Tessa needed. She plunged the dagger into his chest then put her own blood covered hand over his wound.
She couldn’t breathe anymore. The cold had almost stopped her heart and the Magik had run its course. Her hands fell by her side and her knees gave out at the same time. She crumpled at Sorem’s feet, unable to move, unable to look up. All she managed was a whisper, “Please … trust me … I’m your Half …”
She felt the cold turning her body to stone and Darkness entering her mind. I failed, was the last thing she thought of.
Sorem looked at the warrior woman who was just a pile of dying flesh now. His eyes were changing to silver again. He felt Darkness retreating from his body under the power of the blood she gave him when she covered his wound with her hand. Reason was returning to him. His memories were coming back. He remembered Arda too, the young woman presented to him as his Half. She looked just like the mortal in front of him, except for her eyes. Arda’s eyes had been a pale blue. This warrior’s eyes were gray, like an imminent storm. She was right. He did know her.
He kneeled by Tessa and turned her over in his arms. She still had some drops of life left in her. He took the dagger she had dropped on the floor and buried it to its hilt into her heart.
The air around them crackled. The chill was retreating in heavy, loud waves. Sorem looked at Tessa’s face. It was perfectly still, like a statue. His hand tightened around her arm. Had he been too late? Then she opened her eyes. They were completely silver.