Chapter 1



Chapter 1

I find myself running toward the sound of music. “That's Ilanes violin.” I thought, with the hope of seeing my sister again. I stopped in my tracks as I saw my old house. I could feel the tears coming, but I knew I've mourned long enough. “It's time to face this.” I whispered to myself. I walked up the stairs onto the porch taking all the old memories in. I saw my old walking stick leaning against the bench my father and I made. I sat on the bench listening to the sound of the music, wondering if I should open the door, but not wanting to ruin this moment in my own past.

Then the music stopped. I turned and ran inside yelling “Ilane? Ilane!” I ran into the kitchen and I saw her in front of the counter “Ilane?” I whispered. “Is it really you?” She was wearing her normal sunflower dress, her blond hair was tied back in a ponytail, but something just felt off about all of this. “Answer me Ilane is it really you?” If not leave this place and don't return.” After I asked that, a smell hit me. The smell of decay. I started to glance around the room to find the source of the smell, but my eyes keep on wandering back to Ilane. “The smell is coming from her direction” I thought. No it couldn't be, but something kept on telling me it was.

As I crept closer to Ilane I knew it wasn't her, but someone or something that resembled her. “There is only one way to find out who you really are.” I said sternly. I reached out and grabbed her shoulder. It felt ice cold, I jerked my hand away. “What is going on?” I said. I started to back slowly away from her, “it”, whatever “it” was I wanted to be as far away from it as possible. That was when I heard the door open behind me. I turned and looked, there was a creature that looked like the night had manifested itself to look like a man.

I heard myself telling my body to move but it would not. I don't know if it was the fear or sheer power of the creature before me staring at me with pure white eyes. Then I saw what I thought was a twitch, but then felt a hard tug at my shoulder. I looked at its arm and realized the sword was gone. “But how.....” I stuttered. I felt weak all the sudden. Stumbling I turned around to run away, but just to come face to face with what was left of my sister. Everything about her was just as I remember, but her eyes were faded and grey, far from the old bright blue that I used to know.

Then the tears came, and I let them. “Ilane I'm so sorry. If I was stronger I could have protected you, but I failed I failed you, and mom. I just..... I just wasn't strong enough to save you I couldn't save either of you.”I sobbed and started to fall I stared at the ground as I fell to my knees sobbing trying to make myself smaller so I would disappear into the blackness. “Please, don't cry Craney, I don't want to see you cry.” I felt cold hands touch my neck, and lift my head up. “I'm almost out of time, that man over there his name is Mytheal, otherwise known as death. I convinced him to let me speak with you.”

As she is saying this, I glance backwards to find he was right behind me and the smell of rot overwhelmed me. “You're running out of time Ilane.” growled Mytheal. “Oh right, sorry.” said Ilane. “So mostly you will have to choose between Greed, and Justice. So that sums it up. Oh wait, I almost forgot the most important part!” She touched my neck again, but this time it felt like my skin was on fire I started to scream.

When the pain finally subsided, “What did you do to me?” I croaked while rubbing my neck, she began to say something, but everything was drowned out by a loud banging sound. Then everything began to get brighter and brighter.

I woke with a start. “Weirdest dream yet.” I whispered to myself. I started to stretch, but my fist hit something hard. “Ow” I grumbled glancing around to see I was still in the carriage. Then the banging started, and I saw a face peering at me through the window of the carriage. “You're finally awake” he grumbled. “I’ve been banging on this door for a while now, it's either you're a heavy sleeper or really thick skulled!” I sigh, he must be the carriage driver. “I'm sorry for the wait, thank you mister” I said shyly.

He gave me a look over “You look like you had the worst nightmare of your life son, or fell off the seat a few times.” he laughed. “Wait a second... I don't remember you having a tatoo when you got in the carriage.” I looked at him confused “What is he talking about?” I thought. “Wait what time is it?” I said suddenly. “It's almost high noon, why? You got somewhere to be?” he asked curiously. “Because we're at Linkton. Or did you just want to sleep in my cart? Because that will cost extra....” I tossed the coins onto the seat. “That should cover the trip, and again thank you for the ride.” I said as I grabbed my cloak and walked out of the carriage. I could hear him scrabbling for the coins as I walked away.

Chapter 2
New Beginnings

“Where is it?” I said to myself, pulling the mask tighter to my face. I was walking towards the town that I could barely pick out from the white wasteland I was walking through. As I walked into the town, I could see blinds opening slightly. “They seem curious about me, or seeing if i'm a threat.” I pondered. I walked up to one of the houses and knocked as softly as I could with my numb hand. There was the sound of a lock opening and the door cracked a tiny bit. “Dele touh cacere?” the man questioned. I stared at him stunned “Ummmm......i'm looking for the inn in town.” I asked as clearly as I could. The man laughed “Ah your not from around here are you boy? Come in! Come in!” he said loudly opening the door all the way, he had a small build, bald, with a beard, and carried a sword at his waist.

As I walked in I noticed there was fur on almost everything in here so it was made apparent that I should not piss this guy off. The house seemed way bigger on the outside. “Thank you mister, but i'm afraid I won't be able to stay long.” I said. He walked over to the coffee pot, as if I had said nothing and poured two glasses. I saw him grab another bottle, pour some into one. He glanced over at me and raised the glass at me. “Want a little nip to your coffee boy?” he asked with an eyebrow raised. I shrug my shoulders. “I’ll take that as a yes.” he said as he poured the substance into the coffee. He handed me the mug, I nodded my thanks, and drank deeply then coughed “What did you put in this!?” I sputtered. He released a bark of laughter.

“That my friend was some of the strongest brandy in the provence, Barten Extract.” he exclaimed proudly. “Now you still haven't answered my question.” he said sternly. “Wait you asked me something? I'm sorry I didn't hear you would mind repeating?” I said shyly. He rolled his eyes “If you didn't have a coughing fit while I was talking, you would've heard me.” he said hotly. “If there is one thing I hate in this world, it's repeating myself.” he sighed. “Fine, I asked what your name was, and why you we're here in Linkton?” he was staring at me now. “Curiosity must not get a lot of new people around here.” I thought confidently.

“I'm here to go to meet some old friends.” I said honestly. He raised an eyebrow. “Aren't you here to go to SkyHall?” he said. I was flustered, damn I forgot to mention that. “Um yes sir I am attending. That is another reason why I'm here. Sorry about not mentioning that.” I glanced out the window. “And my name is Crane Nexus, nice to meet you.” I said calmly. “Ah Crane Nexus huh.... My name is Jeremiah Nellis, nice to meet you.” He was studying me now so I looked out of the window. “It's getting dark.” I thought “Crap” I said without thinking. “Go Mr. Nexus. I’ll be looking forward to seeing you again.” He said with his back turned.

As I started to walk out the door I remembered; “You still never told me where the inn was Mr. Nellis.” I curiously asked. He pointed and said “End of the road, it has a sign that looks like a bear. You can't miss it.” I nodded my head to him and walked away from the man's house. I could feel his eyes boring into my back, but I knew I couldn't turn around.

The wind ripped at my face as I pulled my mask closer to my face. I walked towards the large building at the end of the road. As I got closer, I noticed the black metal bear sign hanging from the archway above the steps. “This has got to be it” I thought hopefully. I hurried up the steps to the door, I could hear people singing inside. “So this must be where everyone must have been.” I opened the door and looked around. It looked like a normal inn-bar.

In one of the corners there were tables all around a fireplace, which was in the center of the room. I realized the deathly silence that filled the room. I instantly realized what I must look like: A complete stranger wearing a black cloak, dark grey gloves, and a mask that conceals half my face. “I must look like a bandit or something.” I thought nervously. “Well let them think what they want.” I turned to shut the door behind me, pulled the mask down from my face, and wearily walked to the bar.

Eyes we're still on me as I sat down, I could feel them boring into the back of my skull. I waved my hand for the bartender to come, and a tall black man came, and just stared at me. I could feel my cheeks turning red. “Can I have some coffee, please?” I asked the man nervously, the man looked startled by me speaking “Yes, of course” he said while walking over to the coffee pot. “Sorry for staring, we don't see new people very often.” As he went to get the bean, I glanced over my shoulder to see almost everyone shy away from my eyes. Until one girl locked eyes with me. She looked about my age, had black hair and light grey eyes. She was sitting on the opposite side of the room. We sat there staring at eachother for what felt like hours until finally I looked away. “That was the weirdest encounter I have ever had.” I thought “Is she still looking at me?” I glanced behind me. She was still staring, but somebody else was with her this time, an older woman.

They were whispering to each other in fast but quiet tones. “Here is your coffee sir. Would you like some sugar with it?” I turned so fast the stool shook I see the bartender standing there seeming startled, I calmed down. “I would like honey with it if you wouldn't mind.” I said calmly. He nodded and backed away and returned shortly with the honey. “Here are the coins for the coffee and honey, and thank you.” I said hurriedly casting a glance towards the two women. He looked at the coins “This looks like way more than I should have got.” he said softly. “I'm taking the mug as well.” I said quickly, and turned and started to rush towards the door, trying to keep my eyes straight forward. As I neared the door I heard two more chairs scrape back. “I don't know who these people are but I need to get the hell out of here!” my mind was screaming. As I got close to the door I sprinted through the door and slammed it shut behind me.

The sun was barely sticking out of the horizon as I ran out on to the snowy street. Grey shadows of buildings stretch across the ground as I jog to next building. “I need to get out of sight for a while” I thought grudgingly. I started to walk down the street looking for any place I can hide. I see a building with its door cracked open. I started to walk towards the house. As I came closer I could see a slight glow coming from the crack in the door. I turned to see two figures come out of the inn “Damn.” I whispered as I sprinted into the house and slammed the door behind me. I sat there for a second looking for a latch to lock them out of here. Then I noticed that the lock was broken. I looked at it for a second “These people might need more help than I do.” I thought nervously. I heard a rustling coming from upstairs “Ok, Ok let's go check it out.” I whispered to myself nervously. I walked up to the stairs and started to slowly walk up in the darkness I could barely see where I was placing my feet. As I neared the top of the stairs,I saw three doors. I started to move toward the first one. Then the last door creaked open and a heard a muffled voice inside “Damn door” and it shut again I sat there staring at the door. I took in a huge gulp of air, and tightened my hand around metal mug “At least I have something” I whispered sarcastically. I gulped down the rest of the coffee, and advanced to the door. As I got closer I heard more muffled voices I edged closer to the door and crouched down as low as I could “Well here goes nothing” I thought.

I twisted the door handle slowly and cracked it a little, there was a man standing in front of a wardrobe looked as if he was talking to it repeating the same thing over and over again. “Find the brand, find the brand...” his voice sounded dry and crackly like he’s been chanting it for hours. His back was to me as I crept closer to him “Brand, brand, brand, find the brand” he growled. “He doesn't even sound human anymore” I thought nervously. I rose the up ready to strike him in the back of the head, then he turned and I saw it a brand on his cheek he had a red eyes and ragged white hair. He glared at me through squinted eyes ‘Um...” I started but was cut off by him starting to scream “SINNER! SINNERS PAY WITH THEIR LIVES!” he howled “IT IS AS HE COMMANDS!”.

He started his advance toward me slowly at first then quickened his advance toward me. He raises his fist and starts to chant something in a muffled tone then he reaches on the bed and grabs a dagger and cuts his wrist. I gasp but instead of bleeding onto the floor the blood starts to flow up his hand into the form of a claw. Then the brand started to glow “Time for you to enter the void, sinner” he giggled. My blood turned cold ”those eyes are full of murderous intent, but why, why is he glowing?” I turned to run but felt the cold bite of steel on my back. I felt the blood trickle down my back I reached halfway down the stairs before a hand gripped my hair and pulled me back up. I glanced into the man’s bloodshot eyes, and all I saw was pure pleasure in them. I felt a sharp push at my back, I glanced down to see the watery silver blade piercing my stomach. “Goodbye sinner” he said as my eyes grew dim, and the last thing I heard was me saying “Blood for blood”.

Chapter 3
Beginnings End

I woke with a start, I was staring at the ceiling I rolled over onto something cold, and wet I lifted my head to see a dark red liquid was covering my body I looked deep into the liquid wondering what it wast. I reached my hand to my neck and rubbed the brand lightly I felt a shock run through my hand I yelped in pain. Confused I pulled my hand away and looked at my reflection in the liquid. My clothes were covered in the strange liquid then I saw the cut in the center of my shirt. I gasped stood up and started to back away from the pool of blood I was laying in, I looked at my hands and they we're stained red from it. I turned to run down the stairs but I tripped and stumbled over something and rolled down the stairs. As I lay at the bottom of the stairs I feel something laying on top of me. I open my eyes to a squint, and I look for what was holding me down. I turn around to that man’s dead eyes staring into mine I lift his body as quickly as I can and back away shakely. I stare at the body before me he was missing an arm and his head was dangling from what looked like a few strands of muscle. Bumping into a wall something metal bumped into my head, I yelped in pain and rub my head I turn to see nothing metal on the wall “What the hell is going on?” I whisper to myself something scraped at my back as I turned. I reached behind me and gripped something on my back and pulled it out I held it there staring at the craftsmanship of the sword. The hilt looks as if it is a hand and a half, it has a one sided blade it was red. “Red...” I whispered and tossed the sword down “Did... Did I do this?” I looked at the sword and turned and left the house.

I walked out into pure black I took my first step into the snow and saw the red start to form around my footprint “I need to get out of here” I thought shakily and turned and started to walk to the edge of town I kept on glancing over my shoulder to check if anyone was following me but each time I did the seemed to have dark creeped closer. My back suddenly felt heavier I reached back and pulled hard “What the...” I started to say, but gasped as I looked at the bloody sword “What is this?” I asked. I shivered and slowly reached back and grabbed the scabbard and sheathed the sword, and started to run down the road as fast as my feet would carry me. I started to slow as the lights coming from the town just looked like specks in my vision. I could feel my eyes getting heavy “I’ll just stop for a little bit, to catch my breath” I sighed and walked to a glade of trees next to the road. I walked into the glade and found a tree with a nook that looked perfect “Best i'm gonna get out here” I thought. As I laid in the tree listening to the sounds of the forest around me sleep took me in an instant.

Chapter 4

“RUN RUN AWAY” I heard a voice scream as I was enveloped by fire. I woke with a start and looked toward the sky from what I could see it was noon. I sat up and looked at the trees around me. I felt something crawling on my back and instantly jumped up, and whipped around to see what it was.


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