The Grey Bishop III
Edward moved away the floor boards accessing his secret hiding spot, where he stored his most valuable stuff. He grabbed the small brown linen pouch and opened it to find four coppers. He punched the hard floor in rage; there had to be more. He couldn't get far with just this much when leaving the city right away.
Desperately he dug through the dirt searching for any coins he may have dropped in there before that could have been buried. But there was nothing there; he would have to make do with what he had. If I could just get into one gambling house for an hour, I can make enough to buy a horse, some food and be on my way. He thought to himself as he covered the secret area back up.
He got up just as his door was kicked open. Ron was on the other side, his eyes black sleights, and without a word he charged at Edward with his short sword. Edward dived out of the way as he came at him, and then rolled on his back to see Ron turn and swing at him.
He rolled away to avoid it and Ron raised his sword to strike again. A little more prepared, Edward kicked at him as he stepped forward. The heel of his boot hitting him in the crotch. Ron dropped the short sword and fell to his knee's as Edward backed away frightened. "What the hell was that about!?" He shouted in fear and anger.
In response, Ron let out a slow and low pitched growl. And then he started melting away like he was made of wax. Edward hopped to his feet and ran out of his house. He kept running until the dirt road ahead of him caved in, swallowing up everything around him.
He tried to stop and run from it, but wasn't fast enough and the next thing he knew he was falling. All around him was darkness, yet the sensation of falling still overwhelmed him. Around the darkness silhouettes of countless faces began appearing before him in grey outlines.
The faces were unknown to him, yet he felt strangely connected to them as if they were a part of himself. And as he watched them fade away, being swallowed by the darkness as their features began to form, he felt despair. And when the countless faces stopped appearing, the infinite darkness around him gave way to a grey landscape that was coming up fast.
There was nothing he could do to break his fall, so when he hit the ground, his back bones shattered in agony and recovered an instant perfectly later. The whole thing happened so fast he barely felt any of it, yet it took him some time before he was able to stand up.
When Edward was finally on his feet, he looked around him. The ground around him was colored grey like stones, but it was soft like dirt. And above him the skies were filled with dark storm clouds, in them thunder roared, and purple lightning crackled. Around this dismal land, he saw nothing, save for a dark tower out in the distance that appeared to be made of a glossy black metal.
With no sense of direction, Edward walked to the tower. He walked for what felt like days, the stormy skies above never relenting in their roar of thunder and crackle of lightning. The sun never shined through, and he couldn't tell if it was day or night there. Still he continued ahead until the ground started rumbling violently.
He braced himself for the worst, not sure what to expect next. But instead of some fierce monster, the ground gave way to a large door, risen from the grounds. The wood looked rotted and any design on it long since faded, leaving sick marks around it. Slowly the door opened up for him, a dim blue light inviting him inside.
Seeing little other options Edward walked through the door, it slammed shut behind him, and the room inside was lit with torches on the wall, burning hot red flames. A dark stone table was at the center of the room, with a young boy chained to it. Out of the flames appeared a group of people in red cloaks, they surrounded the boy and chanted something Edward could not understand.
As they chanted one of the cloaked figures, at the head of the table, pulled a jagged dagger with a dark glossy edge on the sides and tip. As the chanting became louder and faster, the cloaked person raised the dagger higher until it was above his head. Realizing what was about to happen, Edward shouted in defiance, "No!" And he rushed forward, tackling the cloaked person with a dagger.
He hit the ground hard, and the dagger skittered to the floor. Edward turned on his side quickly and found only the robes on the floor, the person in them had disappeared. He quickly hopped to his feet, the other cloaks were still around, their faces hidden behind darkness, but had backed up from the table, unmoving.
Edward looked around for the knife and grabbed it before going to the table to try and free the child. But as soon as he got to the head of the table he saw the boy's face. It was his face, but younger, the child chained to the table was him. He gasped and looked up; the cloaks were all gone suddenly.
His head started to spin, and he backed away, freaking out until he stumbled. Falling on his back, he felt something cold around his wrists. As he tried to move his arm, the chains rattled, and he soon realized he was now chained to the table. He struggled, to no avail, and soon saw the red cloaked clone of him rise once more, and walk around to the head of the table.
When he saw his clone grab the dagger his heart raced, and he struggled hard to break free. The chains rusted away as he struggled, becoming weaker as if his will to survive was changing his reality. As he did though the cloaks returned, all of them with their hoods off, all of them with his face and voice, chanting.
"Become the sacrifice," they spoke in unison. "It is your destiny, your purpose in life."
The one with the knife was now at the head of the table, raising it up above him. The others returned to their chanting, which he began to understand somewhat, yet ignored it all in his struggle to break the chains. He roared defiantly as the dagger came down for him, and he pulled against the chains with everything he had.
The chains snapped, and Edward raised himself up narrowly avoiding the dagger. When it missed him and hit the table, it exploded into dust. And the clones of him fell to dust as well, all of them. He grabbed the other chains around his ankles and snapped them off.
He hopped off the table and was confronted with a man made of shadows. He was slender, almost starved, with yellow-orange eyes. Edward grabbed the handle of the blade instinctively then the shadow man charged at him.
It hesitated, seeing the blade reform in Edward’s hand. And Edward seized the opportunity to plunge it into the man's heart. It let out a shrill low-pitched cry, and exploded into smoke, knocking Edward back.
He got up to find that there was a void of grey around him and a group of people, with strangely familiar faces, smiling. "Who are you people?" He asked, but no sounds escaped his mouth.
They all spoke, but no sounds escaped their mouths either. And then one by one they disappeared into a silver light. Until one last young man was left, "Thank you...." he whispered before disappearing into the silver light.
When the nightmare ended, everything had changed, and the shadows that stalked him became his ally, his tool, his weapon. He could mold the darkness into anything he wanted. He could look into rooms and see almost anything, and hear almost everything. Without moving a muscle he could be anywhere, so it wasn't hard for him to track down the Baron.
The balding man lived on a large estate on Queen Street. He made significant gains from the suffering of others, taking everything from them to support himself and rise to higher social status. But not for long, Edward thought as he briskly walked down the road heading to the estate.
In the roads, scattered about, he could see dead bodies of men in Sky blue uniforms, and ordinary men like himself. While most of the buildings went unscathed, the roads made it look like there had been a war that just unfolded in the city. He looked up in the sky; it should be raining in a few days’ time. Wash away all the death and misery spread out in the streets.
When Edward arrived at the estate, he busted the door down with a massive shadow ram. A pair of guards in leather armor came running to the front. The shadows by his feet stretched out thin and shot forth at them like javelins, penetrating their skulls. Edward moved on without a second thought.
He found the Baron in the dining hall with a gourmet meal in front of him, crisp lobster, seasoned bread, and roasted ham. He glared at Edward, "Who the Fu-"
His words were cut off as a thin shadow, like a wet cord, wrapped tightly around his neck. He grabbed at it to no avail, and as Edward's anger grew, the shadow cord became tighter and tighter. First, the Baron's eye's popped, then the shadow cord cut through his neck, and his head rolled out to Edward's feet.
Edward looked at the severed head with disgust, thinking to himself, it wasn't enough. He wanted to destroy everything the Baron had built, not just kill him. He picked up the severed head and walked into the shadows.
Whatever force was guiding him in the use of his new found sorcery, was faint in this dismal realm. So traversing it, to get to the city guards barracks, took him numerous tries. And the only way he knew he was in the right place is when several men in Sky-Blue uniforms reacted to his sudden appearance, by pointing their blades at him.
Instinctively his shadow wrapped itself up around his skin like armor. "Where is your commander?" He asked to no one in particular.
When they saw the severed head, he was holding, they attacked him in answer. Their blades hit him harmlessly, he hardly felt it. But it became annoying after a minute when they kept swinging at him to no avail. He stretched out the shadows nearby and wrapped them around the men's wrists like ropes restraining them from attacking him further.
"Your commander, where is he?" Edward asked with more temper.
Soon enough an old man with a limp in his walk came down the stairs, "I am commander Jorden," he said. Who are you, and what do you want?"
Edward saw the old commander eyeing him, his face betrayed a third question, and what are you?
He tossed the Baron's head to Jorden's feet and said, "That's the severed head of the Baron that's been causing you, everyone, so much trouble in the city. And in the Rat's Hobble you'll find, at the center of the district, a wide building that looks like several houses built in together. That's called the Warehouse. There is where you'll find all of his 'treats' that he used to greatly control the people who ambushed you. My suggestion, burn the whole place down."
"How do we know anything you're saying is true?" The commander asked skeptically. "This could be a new ruse by the Baron; something conjured up to lead us into a trap."
"They're all stored in crates in the Warehouse," Edward said, ignoring Jorden's skepticism. "I don't think there will be any more than about ten men guarding the place given how most of his men were sent out to ambush yours. If you want all this to end you have to destroy his stash too, otherwise, someone new might take his place."
Jorden said nothing, only glared at Edward, trying to discern the truth from him. After a quiet minute, Edward released the shadows restraining the guards, then walked back into the shadow realm.
Edward then watched from atop the wall as many hours later the commander sent his men to find the Warehouse and see if Edward's story was true. After they had discovered all he said was accurate they left, only to return with barrels of oil and started dousing the entire ward, then when all of the men were out they set it ablaze.
His hard face turned into a wicked smile as he watched everything burn. He didn't care about those inside, part of him enjoyed watching some of them burn too. And for a moment he thought about spreading the flames through the city, watching the whole place just burn, but that wasn't who he was. It was just a passing dark thought, and one he pushed aside to enjoy the show.
Going late into the night the ward burned on, slowly dying out, and when all that was left was ashes he hopped down from the wall. Then he walked back into the shadows; he knew he was meant to live for more, and now was the time to find out what that was.