Back in February, when I started the Facebook page to plant Promptly Friday, a company I had been following posted one of their first story prompts to get word out about their very first tabletop RPG (now live on Kickstarter). I found the prompt on the last day of their contest in the twilight hours of the dawn without having gone to sleep and spent the following three hours writing something out for it. There was only suppose to be one winner, but there ended up being three. I was one of those three.
What follows below is the most recent entry I did. The winning entry will be held back for later, or if you feel adventurous you can find it on their Facebook page: Rare Elements. Both entries incorporated the story prompts into the story.
“When Darkness Rises”
A young lady walks back home from her day at the market. It had rained earlier in the day so she uses a more scenic trail that ventures toward the river. She skips a few stones across the swift current and continues home. Once the sounds of the river fade, she realizes she is left in complete silence. No animals or birds happily making their way through the day, no insects buzzing or chirping. Just silence.
The girl enters a clearing and spots someone familiar kneeling against a tree. As she approaches the person, she realizes it’s her best friend, the faun Elsabeth. “Elsabeth, is that you? Are you alright?”
The faun turns toward the girl slowly, black drool trickling out of her mouth. Her eyes are wide and glistening in fear. She reaches out for her friend. That’s when the girl sees the pustules on Elsabeth’s skin, as one bursts open and the fluid flows toward the girl. “Raeyvn.. Help.. Help me,” Elsabeth barely manages to utter as her body lurches toward Raeyvn.
“By the heavens, Elsabeth! What’s happening,” Raeyvn asks frantically avoiding the dark fluid. They had just been walking the river bank not two hours past. “Elsabeth.. Elsabeth!” Her shouting startles the faun. Elsabeth stumbles backward, trips, and falls into a small puddle of clear rainwater.
Horror crosses Raeyvn’s face as the body of a young boy lies motionless under Elsabeth’s cloven feet. Even covered in the dark, viscous fluid, Raeyvn knows the boy. He is her brother, Keiss. His teary eyes search his sister’s face, his lips trembling.
“Keiss,” Raeyvn screams. “Keiss, what’s happening!?” Raeyvn returns her gaze to Elsabeth who hasn’t moved. The ichor bubbles up out of the faun’s mouth as she desperately tries to breathe. Her best friend Raeyvn rushes to her side, throwing thoughts of safety aside. Kneeling above her head, Raeyvn cups the clean water and pours it over Elsabeth’s face. The black liquid reacts violently to the clean water, sputtering and sizzling as if an egg had just been cracked open into a hot frying pan.
Elsabeth’s body began to seizure, the black fluid gushing from her mouth and the pustules covering her body. Raeyvn retrieved her water flask and quickly gathered more water from the puddle. Elsabeth’s eyes widened as she stared into her friend’s eyes, fear of what was to become beginning to overtake them both. Raeyvn rushed her flask over to Keiss, dumping its contents over the thick, black muck covering him.
The reaction to the water was the same. The tainted ooze appeared to be boiling away, turning into a black mist, rising like steam, and vanishing into the air. Raeyvn continued to pour water on both Elsabeth and Keiss until the puddle was dry. The young faun and boy began to slowly move around, coughing up what was left of the black mist.
“Raeyvn?” Keiss’ voice was weak as he called for his sister. “Raeyvn, don’t let it touch you..” His words faded as his exhaustion overcame him. His peaceful breathing eased Raeyvn’s mind as she sat beside Elsabeth.
An hour passed before Elsabeth stirred. Raeyvn had sat both her friend and brother up against the tree, tended their wounds, and checked for any more of the dark liquid before covering them both up. “Raey, is it really you,” Elsabeth asked softly.
“It is, Els, I’m here. What happened to you? What was that stuff?”
“I don’t know. We parted by the river, and I started to go home..” Elsabeth searched her memories. “There was a little, white bunny who appeared injured so I wanted to help him. After that everything is blurry. I just remember seeing you, hearing your voice, and then waking up here.” She expelled a quivering sigh recalling more. “It seems like such a bad dream. I thank the moons you figured out a way to save me, to save us,” she corrected herself as she looked to Keiss beside her.
Another hour of resting passed before the girls pick up Keiss and head back to their homes. “It’s already so late now,” Raeyvn says to the others. The sun is just above the horizon and the moons are rising. “You should get home, Els.. I can take Keiss from here. Get some rest.”
“Thanks Raey, I’ll see you tomorrow?” Raeyvn nods, smiling back at Elsabeth as they depart from one another.
Raeyvn hoists Keiss up on her back and begins to head home. She feels him shift a bit on her back and smiles. “Finally awake, are you? You’ve been asle..” Before she can finish talking, she feels something warm drip onto the back of her neck. Her knees give and she falls to the ground. With wide eyes, she struggles to look at Keiss who now stands in front of her, the ichor seeping from his mouth, nose, and eyes.
“Yes, I am finally awake, sister. Too bad you came by, Elsabeth was to be my first. I guess you’ll have to make due.”
Keiss leaned over his sister’s body and began chanting in a strange language Raeyvn had never heard before. Keiss finished his chant and opened his mouth wider than should have been possible. A large mass of the black substance began to emerge from Keiss’ throat, appearing to pull itself out of his mouth. As the large bulge moved past his mouth it turned and with sharp, black teeth, it smiled at Raeyvn.
© T.A. Rindler “When Darkness Rises” 6/21/2015