The Fallen King
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God
- John 1:1
Whispers of Power
It was much too bright the day his father died. Liam would have preferred it to be dark, the sky angry with churning gray clouds. He wanted it to be a winter day where the Darkness pressed up against the city walls and the blue beams from the lighthouse. But no, it nearly felt like spring, the sun shining between a few whimsical white clouds. It was the warmest the valley had been all winter, hinting of the oncoming spring. A beautiful day. A day he should have seen, Liam couldn’t help but think. Instead, it was the day he died. Liam felt that the world should have respected his death and lowered the lights accordingly. After all, it had been the Darkness that had killed him.
It was a similarly bright day a month later. Still cold though, his breath misting the crisp air and his fingers growing numb as they held the torch. Liam had just come out from under branches of the forest and was glad of it. At least the sunlight was warm.
Liam peered back at the forest. The thick, tall forest. Many of these trees were old and huge, with rough bark that almost looked like faces. Sometimes you can forget that trees are alive, breathing, creeping, even thinking. Arwen had frequently reminded him that.
“Remember that the trees are strong,” She would say, “We build ships with them that brave storms. Their roots can squeeze boulders until they crack. Most importantly, beneath their bark, they remember much. You don’t want them as your enemies.”
Liam turned away from the forest, but as he did so, he heard it again. It was the sound that had distracted him his entire way to the graveyard. He whirled back around, staring out at the trees. A slight breeze was muttering through their branches, causing their limbs to rub and creak against each other. He’d heard that sound countless times before, but today, he heard something different. Like a voice within the creaking. Liam shook his head. It was just his loneliness getting to him. Since his dad had died, the lighthouse had been quiet. Grandpa wasn’t much of a talker.
“He is coming,” he heard a thousand voices whisper. Each one so small that it would be impossible to hear on its own, but together they could not be ignored. The voices had come from within the trees, from within the sounds of creaking and the low breath of the wind. Liam looked at the forest a bit longer and then scowled at it, hoping maybe showing his disapproval would quiet it.
It did not.
Luckily, this was the last day he’d have to take the three-mile hike down from the lighthouse and up to the graveyard. Among his few responsibilities as Keeper of the Light, bearing the fire to the dead was one of them. Every day for the moon cycle after the Darkness claimed a life, he must take a fresh torch of Astrum up to the graveyard and light the fire in the crypt. The Darkness must not awaken the dead.
Up until recently, this had been his father's responsibility. But since last autumn, Father had grown weaker and weaker, so Liam had been taking more and more responsibilities. Eventually, the Authority had passed onto him, so he took them all.
Liam scampered away from the forest, deeper into the clearing, and higher up onto the hill. Once he was clear of the shadows of the trees, he turned and looked back again. The graveyard had the second-best view of the valley.
The landscape below him was dominated by the leafless limbs of trees. The forest was old, and even in winter, difficult to navigate. The village was an island of civilization in this forest. Lownire was enclosed in ancient stone walls as tall as four men and surrounded by a few acres of farmland on one side and the sea on the other. At high tide, the water came right up to the wall and lapped against the stones. Built against the wall was a low stone platform and docks with fishing boats tied up to them.
This circular city wall enclosed the tightly packed wooden buildings and cobbled streets with tiled or thatched roofs. The town was a perfect circle, and the iris of this circle was at the center of the city, where the buildings gave way to a green field of short grass. The pupil of this iris was the marble Keep and the funeral stone -- the stone Father had been burned on.
Across the valley, on the northernmost tip of the cliffs, sat Liams home. The lighthouse. Taller than even the largest oak in the forest, it sat triumphantly on the edge of a cliff. The rocky, moss-padded cliff shot out over the ocean, taller than any of the waves that crashed against it. If the graveyard had the second-best view of the valley, the lighthouse had the best.
It was there that Father had passed on the Authority to Liam. When it had become evident his Father would never recover, he had taken Liam’s hands in his and had him swear the oath of the Keeper of the Light. Father had died only four days later.
Further to the West of the forest, Liam could see the beginnings of the Dark Wood. The mass of trees and vine, so tightly woven that even the light of this bright day only began to flirt with its edges. The forest may be old and thoughtful, but the Dark Wood had real living malice in it. Even its birds and plants were corrupted. The tree’s gnarled limbs kept even the summer’s sunlight from piercing their shadows. It had been those Shadows that had killed his Father. A creature of Darkness had found Father while he was in the forest. It had struck him, seeding him with the Corruption that would eventually kill him. Liam had watched all winter as he withered away. If the correct Ceremonies were performed, and you did not submit, Darkness merely killed you, instead of turning you into one of Its mangled beasts.
Father never submitted, and as a consequence, the Darkness took him like it had so many others. Four years after he had lost his daughter and fifteen after he had lost his wife, Father followed them to the stars. Liam looked away from the Dark Wood. Best not to dwell on the Corruption.
This is just part one of the chapters, part two is linked here: https://www.youngwriterssociety.com/work/MaybeAnd...
Feel free to review however you like, but the two parts are meant to be taken together (: