It was too late.
A Dark One stepped out of the shadows and glared at them with ophidian eyes. The flame in her hand guttered and threatened to go out, but she had no other means of protecting it than repeating her lighting spell with a timorous tone. Shadow swirled about the Dark One like smoke curling around embers and she watched in perfect dread as he slowly reached out his hand toward them.
Light the lantern! Speak the words of protection! Flee!
Years of training screamed at her from within the spiraling depths of her mind, but fear held her transfixed. He stepped closer, his dark eyes glimmering in the fluttering light of her candle, his hand outstretched toward them, toward the child. Light the lantern! Speak the words of protection! Flee!
“Luxay!” Ayla turned toward the lantern and shouted her lighting spell, gasping in relief when the wick snapped into flame, but the Dark One flexed his immense wings and directed a current of air across the room that extinguished both flames, the one she held and the one inside the lantern, in the same moment. Roshwyn screamed and Ayla jerked backwards toward the door, but in an instant, the Dark One was upon them and she stood, paralyzed by dread, her aura shrinking to a feeble glimmer in her terror. The Dark One stared down at her with unreadable eyes, then reached for the squalling child.
“Do not take him.” She pleaded; her voice a mere thread. Remarkably, the Dark One paused, regarding her with his snake-like gaze, but the wailing child could not be ignored. He raised his hand once more and uttered a single word in the vile Dlalth tongue, the language of The Lost.
“Gvyndlal.” Ayla stared at the demon-fey standing before her with utter surprise. As Roshwyn’s wailing subsided and his squirming ceased, she shook her head and struggled to translate the word he had spoken. Gvyndlal? Sleep? The Dark One had said only Sleep?
“Sleep?” She gazed down at the quiet babe in her arms in amazement, then back at the Dark One still glowering over them. Her aura expanded, illuminating his dark silhouette and she beheld, for the first time, one of The Reviled.
He dwarfed her diminutive stature by at least fourteen inches and had a lithe, powerfully muscular physique. His shoulder length hair was the color of shimmering ice, both white and silver. He wore a full-length coat with burnished gold lacings and buttons, with armor-like plates embellishing his broad shoulders and with dark crimson and vibrant silver silk accentuating the deep lapels of the coat he wore open across his broad chest. The multiple belts and chokers crisscrossing his close fitted vest, his pants and boots; all were black leather with similar burnished gold fittings and, although she never would have imagined a Dark One dressing so strikingly, he wore a double flounced cravat and golden choker with an enormous ruby glimmering from its heart.
His vast dragon-like pinions were deep black and blood-red, stretching fully twice his height in length, yet with vicious spines at each joint and tip they seemed even larger and were hideously frightful to behold. His complexion was the unmistakable sallow pallor of the Reviled.
“Put the child in his crib.” He said unexpectedly, his calm baritone voice sending a violent shiver through her. She hesitated; if she released Roshwyn, he would be lost.
“Put the child in his crib.” The Dark One repeated in a more imposing tone. Ayla jolted into motion, but shook with uncontrolled fear.
“Please, do not take him.” She whined piteously. The Dark One scowled at her impatiently and stepped closer, pointing insistently at the small cot in the corner of the room. She shuddered visibly at his nearness and shrank away, wholly intimidated by him, but he did something Ayla never would have anticipated. He stepped past her towards the doorway and glanced out into the ebon darkness of the cottage.
“Light your candle, speak your protections and leave him in his cradle.” He insisted through gritted teeth, urgency marking his every word. She stared at him perplexed, but only for a moment. Turning to look down upon Roshwyn, she relit her small candle, as well as the lantern, and began her intonation of protection. The words and light made the Dark One step out into the shadows of the hall, as if they sickened him, but they did not banish him back to the realm of Uunglarda as she had always thought they would. When she finished, Ayla turned with a knife of uncertainty twisting in her stomach, but before she had time to consider her next actions, he lunged into the room, grasped her by the wrist and drew her out into the dark corridor.
……..(Here ends part two. The finale, Part Three, will follow in my next post)
Beautiful Original Artwork by: hgjart at Deviantart.com