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May 17, 2009

Night Terrors - Fiction
by Loreis

The heat rose off the lava cobblestones in waves, rendering Issiula Corllean breathless. Maybe she was too far along in her pregnancy to be outside on her wooden swing in this weather, but she needed the open space. Her husband, Coryial, pushed her absentmindedly, gazing up at the clear sky.

“Why can’t I remember anything, Cor?” Issi asked. “Why am I always so tired, but I never know why?”

Issi’s husband looked down at his lovely wife, searching his heart for an answer. The old witch woman at the edge of town had muttered something as he passed her one morning, but Cor could make neither heads or tails of her ramblings. Something inside him grew cold in her presence, but that old witch seemed harmless enough. At least, during the day.

“Angel, I have no idea. It’s probably just the baby, kicking up a storm! He’ll be an athlete, I just know it”, Cor responded, fatherly pride in his voice.

Issi sighed, beginning to really feel the suffocating heat.

“I need to go back in, Cor, it’s unbearable out here.”

“Let’s go back to the house, and I’ll make you a cool cup of lemonade. I got fresh lemons from Merchant Gylesh’s fruit stand!” Cor helped his wife struggle to her feet, and holding hands, they slowly walked back to their humble house.

Hired guards roamed the narrow paths in M’Lanchai Edeterai Borough, but no one really knew why. No one had seen the mayor in months, and his wife, Aerilia, peeked out from behind the walls surrounding their home once in a great while, terror in her lovely green eyes, her golden hair shining in the sun. There were rumors, but in a small town, that was to be expected. These rumors were more disturbing, however: whispers of dream hags wandering the streets at night, sleepwalkers, and a garden where a woman waited for revenge.

Jaxxear, the town fool, stood in the dead center of the Borough, whispering and murmuring to himself. A guard walked up to Jaxx, as the townspeople called him, and watched him for a few moments. Shaking his head, the guard strode west, past the grazing fields filled with beautiful horses, past the locked gates, past the old men rocking in their chairs, musing about the past, before “the troubles”. Jaxx knew, he knew, but no one listened. Deep is his heart, Jaxx understood the emotions running through M’Lanchai Edeterai Borough, emotions that ran along the cracks in the cobblestones like blood through veins. The Gods had blessed, or cursed, Jaxx with the mind of a child, but as with any child, he could see things that others could not. And what he saw, what he knew, chilled him to the bone.

Qilriana Mharge enjoyed feeding the birds that seemed to always congregate near the old woman at the wall. People called her a “witch”, but she just seemed sad to Qil. Today was no different, and as Qil tossed bread crumbs onto the ground, and watched the little black birds peck away, her almond eyes looked again at the woman. Her tanned skin spoke of a life of labor, but there was such a lost and lonely look in her eyes. Qil wanted to ask the old woman why she was so sad, but each time she had tried to speak to her, the old woman has fixed her gaze on Qil with such intensity that Qil had turned, gathered her skirts about her, and ran back to the river as fast as she could.

Mayor Eodai M’Lanchai paced his office floor, making his secretary, Areawea, very nervous. The mayor’s wife was home, probably in her sitting room; she seemed never to leave that room, except to peer over the wall, fear etched into her face.

“I love my wife”, the mayor whispered. “I love my wife, but I loved another once…she holds me and this whole city accountable to this very day!”

Eodai collapsed onto the chair behind his desk, placed his head in his hands, and began to weep. He alone knew exactly what happened when the sun set over the far horizon, he alone knew what he must do to end this suffering. Eodai was many things, and first among them, he was a coward. A coward who had been unfaithful to his wife, and had chosen a magical woman, in every sense of the word, with whom to have this liason. He loved her, oh yes, and this woman loved Eodai, but there is an invisible line separating love and hate. When Eodai had ended the tryst, his lover had sworn revenge, not just on Eodai and Aerilia, but on their son, Gerawd, who had his mother’s beautiful green eyes, and the same terror within those perfect eyes, and on the unsuspecting townspeople. And each morning, Aerilia, Gerawd and the townspeople awoke, afraid but unaware. Eodai awoke as well, but he was all too aware of why fear enrobed him like a tomb.

“Please,” Mayor Eodai prayed to the Gods, “please send someone, ANYONE, to help me, to help my family, this town, before it’s too late. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry…” and he wept again.

Yealil Oeryn ran down a path on his family farm, looking for his shoe. He peered into a bush, and suddenly noticed the shadows change. Yealil leapt up from his crouched position, and anxiously looked into the sky. The sun was setting slowly, and purple tinged the edge of nowhere. Yealil felt his blood grow cold, and he dashed back into the house, calling for his mother.

All over M’Lanchai Edeterai Borough, townsfolk glanced into the sky, fear crawling into their expressions. Parents grabbed their childrens’ hands, Cor held Issi as tears began to course down her face, and one man, one very frightened man hoped against all hope that the Gods had heard his prayers, and someone brave (braver than Mayor Eodai M’Lanchai, in any case) was coming, coming to end this. Little did he know that what he had unleashed was more that just any traveler could brave-Eodai needed an adventurer, from far away, in Medievia City.

As the sun bade farewell, and Sister Moon crept into the blackening sky, voices hushed, prayers were said around supper tables, and somewhere, an old witch woman stared into the night, one solitary tear shining on her brown, weathered cheek. She was coming, the witch thought, my daughter is coming…


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