All was shrouded in silence as I lay against the cold, hard surface of the rocky mountain ground. The penetrating frost bit into my skin as I shivered and trembled with shock. I could feel my life slipping from me with the thoughts of death consuming my mind. Using all the strength that was left in my small, weak body, I reached for my walking stick but was unable to find it. I lay there helplessly as I waited…waited for death to meet me.

I was unsure of when my mind had left the world and had entered the freedom of dreams. I felt light and weightless as my mind created pictures, vivid in my imagination. The only time that I was ever able to see the world clearly was when I closed my eyes and hid the world away. Only then could I truly see.

A strange shape began to form within my dreams, swirling and mixing together in a pool of blue. There were ripple-like effects that scattered the vague picture about until the form was completed and an animal appeared. The creature seemed to be colossal as I studied it in my mind, with large, webbed wings protruding from behind the sturdy shoulder blades and a long, slender body that stretched out into the tip of a tail. An arrowhead-like spike rested at the end of the tail, along with the much smaller spikes that ran down the back of the slender body. The spikes continued up the serpent-like neck and over the top of the head, stopping at the creature’s brow. The lizard-like animal had a soft face with a gentle smile. Even though two, long, silver-colored horns rose from the back of the long head along with the smaller horns lining the cheek bones, the creature seemed to be friendly. It stood on its four, powerful legs with a sense of pride as it grinned, and it made me feel tranquil.

I recognized the creature to be that of a dragon. Nobody from my peasant village had ever seen a dragon before, but they described them as the legends did. We all had our own interpretations of the legends, as I had my own, and it was one that I could see and believe in. Although I knew that dragons did not exist, but only monsters for brave knights to slay in their stories, I could still dream of them. My imagination could take over and create the image for me allowing me to actually see in a world full of darkness. I could feel their presence, hear their roars, and smell the smoke that emitted from their fiery breath. I could see dragons.

Suddenly, the dragon from my dreams perched on its powerful back legs as it exerted immense force and pounded its large wings against the ground. In an instant, there was a light blue blur as the beast lifted itself into the sky with tremendous speed, flapping its webbed wings powerfully to stay in the air. I clearly imagined the mythical beast soaring through the clouds with little contrast between the color of its scales and that of the sky. My vivid imagination showed me images as the slender beast twirled and flipped as if without gravity, and laughed as it soared with exuberance. There was a joyful feeling in my mind that seemed to radiate from the dragon itself, and I felt comforted. I also realized that I was warm and the shrill feeling had left my body.

I drowsily opened my eyes only to see the familiarity of darkness. I was blind again. As I felt the environment around me, I could feel the rough wall of rock that I was leaning against and a warm feeling that seemed to spread over my body. There was the crackling sound of a small fire before me and the rushing sound of rain and wind coming from the left. The sounds echoed and bounced off the sides of the walls carved from the mountain telling me that I was within a cave. The smell of burning wood met with me as I groaned in pain. My side ached along with my head, yet, otherwise, I seemed to be all right. I slid my fingers across the floor and was frightened to find my walking stick missing.

I truly was blind.

“Arin!” There was a faint yell coming from outside of the humble shelter, travelling faintly through the wind that howled past the entrance and just barely reaching my ears. I could easily tell that it was the voice of my brother.

Without any thoughts, I picked myself up from the ground and left the blazing comfort of the fire. With my arms outstretched before me, I blindly stumbled closer to the roaring sounds of the weather. “Brother!” I called out into the dead of night. “Theo, where are you?” I listened as my voice died in the storm and waited for a reply. Only the wind answered me with a mocking howl that called like a wolf to the moon.

Suddenly, I found myself running through the bitter, driving rain with my arms leading my way. My boots splashed through the puddles collecting on the non-absorbent rock as my body was drenched with the chilly rainwater pouring from the skies above. My only thoughts were set on finding my brother and going home with him. I was to see my father tonight and I was to come home to a warm bed. My mind was set on living, so I pursued.

Just then, I came to an abrupt stop. What was I doing? I stood there for a few moments hugging myself for warmth while my body trembled uncontrollably. The black cloth wrapped around my head seeped water into my eyes as my clothing trapped it against my body, weighing me down immensely. “Theo!” I called out once more. “Theo!” Tears streamed from my eyes, only to mix with the rainwater about my face. My body ached with weakness as my muscles were sore and my head throbbed. I fell to my knees with frustration and anger, crying out into the storm, unheard.

Thoughts flashed through my mind rapidly as I sat with my knees soaking in the water collecting on the slick rock. I thought of turning back to the warm cave with the fire, and realized that darkness was all around me. I didn’t know which way to go through the endless mountains. Suddenly there was an obstreperous clash of thunder overhead that caused me to scream in reflex. It was then that I realized that I was alone. I was alone in the mountains. My sight lacked me and I did not have my walking stick. What was I to do?

Just then, there was a cry that told me that I was not alone. A long wolf howl stretched out across the night followed by more, most likely from the same pack. My heart rate immediately increased as I jumped in fear. My loneliness was quickly replaced with fear as I longed for my brother to protect me. I stumbled to my feet and began to run through the streaming rain once more.

Wolf cries surrounded me as I heard the pitter of running feet behind me. I drew in quick gasps of air as I ran, terrified at the thought of the wolves behind me. Was this the end of me? My mind went wild as I pictured the four-legged, furry creatures in my mind. Whether my picture of them was correct or not, I knew for certain that wolves were not friendly creatures. Snarling followed the howls as splashing puddles met with my ears. My heart raced in my throat and my legs burned with fatigue. I felt as if I couldn’t travel any farther, but if I didn’t, the savage beasts were sure to get me. “Theo! Theo, help! Help me!” I cried in anxiety. There was the sound of claws against rock closer behind me. I realized that I wouldn’t be able to outrun them.

A harsh growl emerged from one of the animals following me just before I was pushed from behind. It was then that I knew that I was gone. I would never again hear the friendly laugh of my brother. I would never again smell the rich scent of our wheat field. I would never feel the comfort of my father’s hopeful words or dream of dragons while I slept. My life was to end by the wolves’ teeth, and I was to bring great grief and despair to my family. I felt the animal’s sharp claws rip into my back, tearing through the materiel of my clothing as his teeth penetrated into my left shoulder blade.

I groaned with pain as the wolf tore deep into my flesh and caused me to fall with my arms outstretched. I was suddenly caught by surprise to feel the edge of a cliff collide with my rib cage, knocking the breath out of me and flipping me forward over the edge. I gasped as I flew through the air and quickly clutched the edge of the rocky surface, preventing my fall. As I dangled from the slippery surface, I gritted my teeth in pain. My right arm strongly held my body from falling while my left lay limp from the wound the wolf had inflicted upon my shoulder blade. My muscles shook timorously as my breaths came uneven and rough. I felt the harsh wind whip at my limp body, blowing cold rain into my face and making it unbearable to hold on. As I tried to lift myself up, I found that I couldn’t and the thought of death returned to me.

There was a sharp pain, far less than the pain throughout the rest of my body, that nipped at my fingers as I felt the sharp teeth of the animals tear at my lone hand. My grip became weaker just before I released. I fell from the cliff, with the wind roaring past my face and a scream emitting from the pit of my throat.

I would no longer be in the darkness of the world.

<- No Longer in Darkness: Chapter 2 | No Longer in Darkness: Chapter 4 ->

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