This short story was actually written up by me about a decade ago now..so when I was 21! I’ve been going through my old files and write ups and was surprised to have completely forgotten about this one, because upon finding it I was instantly reminded of how much I enjoyed writing it!
As is obvious with my recent posts, I’ve been getting back into my creative writing much more (with a lot of personal stuff imbued into the write ups), and now that I am no longer shy to share my work, I’ll be posting this short story too. It’s a little tragic and was written in short parts (3 parts), but it leaves a hopeful message. I also recall being heavily influenced by the concepts of birth, death and rebirth upon writing it – no surprise given my interest in metaphysics, philosophy, mysticism, etc. It’s a mix of fantasy and realism.
Anyway, enjoy. -D
“Are you out of your mind!?”
Zarn’s face was one of shock. He simply could not comprehend Van’s decision, and his ambitious, or more, rather insane ideology.
“Not out of my mind, Zarn. Simply determined.”
Van continued to strap his boots on, overlapping his ragged and dark pants, his shirt overhanging over his hips slightly and a leather vest strapped around, sword sheathed and sharpened for the long journey ahead.
“No, Van, this is insane. Why do you consistently seek to redeem something that cannot be? Why can’t you just leave it? She’s long dead. You’ve seen what those…shadows do. What they’ve done to this already worn out city. What makes you think that she’s alive? Enlighten me, because clearly you seem to have some kind of clairvoyant ability that makes you always think you’re bloody right.”
Van got back up, boots strapped tightly and prepared, glancing at Zarn, his piercing gaze only strengthened by his crystal blue eyes.
“Sometimes Zarn..you follow your gut. I’m aware of the risks. I’m aware of the fact that I might just be wrong about this – that my drive overrides my reason; that Allina is all but dead, and my hopes are lying on false dreams—“
Van reaches out and rests his hands on Zarn’s shoulders, his eyes locking onto his.
“—but I have to try, old friend. This isn’t something that I can simply let slide. This isn’t just one of my insane tests of vigilance and bravery. I cannot rest knowing that she just might be alive. It’s too important.”
“But what makes you possibly think she’s alive, Van? What is it? Everyone who has sought after their friends, loved ones, family; all they’ve found in the end is bones..bones and heart ache. What is it that makes you think Allina is alive?”
Van looked away for a moment, breathing out a sliver of a sigh, and closing his eyes. He glances back.
“..there is an amulet I gave her, when we first met. The amulet encases the blood of a dragon. It’s enchanted. I told her; made her promise, that she will have it on her wherever she goes, so that if she is in trouble, I can always find her.”
Van raises his arm in front of Zarn’s face, revealing a small bracelet that glows faintly, a silent hum emanating from it.
“The bracelet encases the same blood, and it glows as long as both bracelet and amulet are intact. Allina is alive, Zarn. I will find her and bring her back. She promised me she will always wear the amulet; never take it off. I intend to uphold my end of the bargain, and that is being there when she needs me.”
Van turns his back to Zarn, his dark brown hair swaying over his eyes as he glances down at the bracelet, a sense of longing and worry overpowering him. Zarn places his hand over Van’s shoulder.
“You are the last of the knights, Van. You are the king’s right hand, the champion of these lands, and the one that everyone looks up to; a hero. But with all the talent and all the skill, sometimes even a hero must know where his limits lie.”
Zarn bites his lips, his teeth clenching behind.
“..but there is obviously no stopping you, and I won’t get in your way. It is clear to me – and to everyone who has seen you and Allina together, that there is a connection there that is very much unbreakable. You two share a love; a rare bond. And with knowing that, I don’t intend to stop you, because right now I do not see you as the hero of Tereg’thal, or the king’s first knight – but the husband of Allina, and the man that will stop at nothing to see her safe. And as far as I am concerned, there is no limit here for you Van, simply obstacles that get in the way of your goal.”
Van glances over his shoulder, a look of worry covering his face.
“..so you know that I may very well never return from this? That the ‘champion’ may finally fall to his knees and fail?”
Zarn frowns, and uneasily, nods.
“It’s not about you failing or succeeding, Van. The fact that you at least tried, that you at least continued to cling onto that small glimmer of hope – that light on your bracelet; that’s all that matters. This may all be in vain, but at least you fight for something – and that something is what makes this world burn bright.”
Van let out a small smile, his eyes watering up slightly and glowing even brighter, his heart ache and worry very much apparent.
“Thank you for understanding, old friend. I have to do this.”
Van turned his head, and reached for his thick fur coat, wrapping it around himself, prepared for the freezing snow on his long journey ahead. As he reached for the handle on the door, Zarn called out.
“Van..good luck, and don’t give up. Show these bastard demons what a human is truly capable of; and bring Allina back here. I know you will.”
Van opened the door, snow blowing into his face softly and the soft howl of the wind whistling into his ear.
“I’ve never broken a promise Zarn. I don’t intend to break this one. I won’t, and will not lose her. I swear it.”
Van smirked at Zarn, a small protective layer that encased and hid his worry, his pain; his longing. He turned and walked into the darkness, snow wrapping around him as the door closed, the small hut now going silent.
Zarn frowns again, rocking back in his chair, scratching his bald head while his long, white beard rests on his lap. As he contemplates, he responds to Van in the silence.
“Just don’t make it so that it’s only her that comes back alive, Van.”
“I won’t let you die on me! Not like this, not now!”
Van yelled at the top of his lungs, shaking the cold and frail corpse in his hands, pleading for her to hear him.
His pain was immense. Trembling in the cold and tears streaming down his numb cheeks, Van simply sat there in the darkness, snow rapidly falling around him and dark, foreboding shadows slowly creeping in towards him from all angles.
“I tried, Allina. I really tried. I am so sorry..I’m so sorry I couldn’t save you. That I can’t save you. Oh God..”
Van looked up into the sky, his eyes burning red from the rainfall that were his tears, hoping to some God – some divine entity to bring Allina back; to wake him up from this nightmare which was ultimately, the reality of things.
Blood started to seep through his clothing faster now, and he grew ever so much colder in the dark, all the while numerous shadows; with their glowing red eyes, surrounded him and his beloved, closing in quickly.
“I am sorry…so sorry.”
He muttered to himself, swaying back and forth, almost mindless and entirely lost from the pain he endures. He leaned down close to Allina’s face; it was numb, pale; her long, dark hair flowing softly in the wind; the howl of the darkness whispering through his ears – it was all he heard, and she was all he saw. He leaned in and softly kissed her now blue lips, one last time, as a final goodbye.
“I failed you, my darling. I failed to save you. I am so sorry. Though I will join you soon, and in the new world…perhaps you could forgive me. Forgive me for not reaching you in time, and we could be together again.”
Van lifted his head, and gently placed Allina’s cold body on the ground, her dress worn and ragged; the amulet not glowing anymore.
Van pulled the amulet from her neck, and wrapped it around his fist, Clenched tightly as he stumbled back up on his two feet, his left side bleeding and fast, his weakness apparent.
“I may have failed her…but I will not go down without fighting. For her. I will not fall so easily, you foul bastards.”
Van unsheathed his sword, gleaming and reflecting in the darkness. He struggled to keep it upright, his breathing now heavy.
“Have at thee, demons of the dark, and remember me not as a champion, or some hero; but as the one human, one man who did not fall so easily; the man who stood up to your reckless and evil machinations, and fought back and did not stop believing, did not lose hope till his very last breath. For Allina!”
Van lunged at the closest shadow in front of him, his sword dancing through the dark, the noise whimsical and harmonic. The demon’s simply dodged and hissed, their figure still entirely black, an almost smog-like entity, too agile to be hit by a weakened man.
Van stumbled forward but quickly regained his footing and turned, the rage in his eyes apparent and determined to slaughter every remaining shadow that stood before him. He lunged again, spinning in a semi-circle and slashing upwards, his sword whistling through the darkness.
His sword connects, and a demon quickly dashes back, its smoky body disintegrating into the darkness as it growls in agony.
Van stumbles forward more, struggling to keep upright. A demon swipes with its claws from behind and slashes across his back, Van yelling in agony as the claws penetrate his leather vest and slash through his flesh. He quickly turns as he stumbles to the floor, swinging his blade across and cutting the demon’s arm off. It lunges back with a hideous roar, its shadowy form blending with the darkness as its eyes burn a fiery red.
As Van barely regains his footing, another demon lunges and delivers a powerful blow to the stomach. Van is instantly winded and some blood sputters out of his mouth, the claws penetrating his internals and devastating him.
Van kneels down, his right arm still swaying about, barely able to move the sword, skidding the snow across the ground.
Van’s voice breaks, almost too weak to speak anymore. His left hand pressed against his stomach, blood leaking out and passing through the crevices of his fingers.
He finally drops the sword and lies back, staring up into the distant, faded stars, wide eyed, his blue eyes now more vibrant than ever.
As Van’s vision becomes blurry and shadowy demon’s stand over him, he glances over to his left, Allina lying there in the cold, lifeless. He reaches his left hand over to her, and touches her face. Brushing against her smooth cheeks; tapping her soft nose; pressing against her luscious lips. He misses the life he once felt. The amulet, wrapped around his hand, slides off and onto her chest as his hand drops.
Van’s breathing slows down rapidly, and his vision begins to go black. As he passes on, he remembers holding Allina under the moonlight at the Elysium hills. As he held her under the skylight, with fireflies surrounding them and the grass swaying gently, he looked into her deep hazel eyes and kissed her, a kiss that lasted for what seemed like an eternity. And in that moment, he stared once more into her eyes and said something which resonated within him and her till the day they both passed on.
“I will always love you. Beyond time and through to eternity.”
“What…where am I?”
Van looked around, perplexed. He stood amongst a long field, grass swaying gently as moonlight shone down upon him. Hills stood from afar, serene in their appearance, and all Van could hear was a soft, gentle breeze.
He walked forward and felt at peace with himself. His wounds; all but gone. His sword was nowhere to be seen, he was completely defenceless, yet something told him he didn’t need any defending here.
“This place looks familiar….Elysium?”
Van remembered where he was. The hills of Elysium. The place he and Allina used to spend many of their days and nights together. Their place of comfort and freedom.
The sky was different in its appearance. Hues of blues, reds, greens and purples spread across the skies, melding and twisting into each other like some strange pattern. Clouds were warped and almost water-like in appearance, shape shifting to form abstract shapes and blending in with the skies, almost looking like a painting in its own right. The grass had a luminescent purple glow to them – each individual blade harnessed its own light, swaying gently in the breeze and illuminating the entire field, light reflecting all over Van. It was beautiful, just like the Elysium Hills, only even more dream-like; more how Allina and Van envisioned it.
“Why am I here? All I remember was…dying.”
“You are where your soul wants to go, where it feels at home, Van.”
A familiar voice called out to Van. He knew the voice. The soft, tender sounding call of the one he holds dearest.
She placed her hand over his shoulder, and rested her head next to his as she stood behind him. Van did not turn around, but simply closed his eyes; he felt her presence, her warmth, her soft skin all over again. Allina was there, with him. He breathed out slowly, a tingling sensation flowing through him.
“Forgive me.. my darling. I’m sorry I couldn’t save you”
Allina smiled, and pressed her soft cheek against his, breathing slowly.
“You have nothing to be sorry about, Van. You can’t always have full control of everything in life. You did your best, and that’s all that matters. The fact that you still came running for me; that you risked your entire world, just for me…that means something–”
“You were my world, Allina.”
“ When I lost you, I lost everything. I promised you that I’d protect you, that I’d be there for you no matter the cost. I don’t break my promises, but I broke this one; the most important one. And I am so sorry for that..”
Allina wrapped her arms around Van’s waist, gripping tightly; her long, dark hair brushing against him in the wind. She continued to smile, and he kept his eyes closed, simply feeling her there.
“You broke nothing, my sweet. You have always taken pride in your loyalty to your friends, your family… me. But don’t think you let me down. I still love you – I will always love you, even through death. After all, we promised one another that we will never stop, remember?”
Tears streamed down Van’s cheek slowly. He raised his hand and placed it against Allina’s cheek; feeling her soft and warm face once more.
“I do, Allina. And that’s one promise I won’t ever break.”
“And that is the most important one. This is your world, Van. You make of it what you will, it’s everything that you loved in your life; all conjured here for your soul to stay. But with that, I can’t stay with you. I have my own world, and you have yours. It’s just how it works, as unfortunate as it is.”
Van sighed, his eyes still closed.
“Is there no other way? There is no heaven if you are not there.”
Allina giggled a little and smiled.
“You were always the softer one in this relationship, regardless of you being the stoic champion. There is a way, Van. With life, comes death, and then rebirth. When two souls love one another enough, they become attuned..always bound to each other, no matter where they are. You will forget everything that you know; your name will become different; you will look different..everything will change. But in the end, we may meet each other some day, in a new life. Are you willing to do this? To erase what we know, and start something new?”
Van smiled, placing his hand against Allina’s.
“Yes, Allina. I would like that. My memory may be erased, but my soul will still be here for you, burning bright. We promised one another that. And that’ll never be broken.”
Allina smiled, walked around and faced Van directly, rubbing her hands across his face and giving him one long, and final kiss.
Van opened his eyes, and saw her angelic face. Her perfect complexion; warm cheeks, dark bedroom eyes, thick lips. She glared at him with such warmth, instilling a total feeling of harmony in him. She walked backwards and kept smiling, fading into the distance. He heard her whispering to him.
Van smiled, his vision becoming blurry and his world turning entirely white. He closed his eyes, and felt himself grow lighter. As the soul of Van faded out, he whispered one final phrase.
“..and through to eternity.”
The world had changed. Shadows and demons did not exist anymore, nor did dragons or elves. The world had become a much more grounded place; people living together in harmony across the lands, trading goods via ships and new technologies; flying machines, strange communication devices that can deliver a letter instantly through the air, mechanical wagons with multiple wheels.. And yet regardless of all this technology, Dean was still terrible at his time management skills, rushing off to work late again. As he ran down the street with his bag around his shoulder, he dodged oncoming pedestrians, rude gestures and such pointed at him as he barely squeezed by, with a constant “Sorry!” being yelled out. He ran around a corner quickly, and unfortunately his dodging skills failed, hitting a pedestrian with his shoulder, knocking them down, their work scattering across the floor. Dean spun around and stopped; as late as he was for work, he couldn’t just leave this poor person to pick up all their belongings alone.
“Ah damnit, I’m so sorry miss.. I ought to not be so hasty.”
He picked up some of the papers scattered across the floor and handed it to her.
“It’s alright…the fact that you stopped to help me out is an apology enough. Not a lot of people do th–”
She looked up at Dean. Her eyes, hazel in colour, stared into his; she had a wonderfully bright complexion, and her lips were luscious and thick. Their eyes locked onto each other, and a feeling unknown to both of them suddenly became overwhelming. Dean kept staring, confused.. yet undoubtedly pleased.
“..Have we met before?”