DARKNESS DESCENDS
BY DROGO


The following story is about "The People's Rebellion", the first in a tragic chain of events that will rip apart the great Mynian Kingdom and leave it broken, and its people disenchanted with all they once knew. One young man fights against injustice, and another seeks to define it. They will find their own truths, and it might just destroy them.


CHAPTER VI: THE STORM

he day dawns bright and clear, the rays of sunlight reach with their bright fingers to the far horizon bringing its light to those still dark places. While beautiful in appearance, not so in its timing grumps Lysander to himself. It was far too early for the sun to be out in his mind, but he did not control the sun, nor did he control his father’s desires to be out fishing already. So, with that feeling about the day he was stumping along next to his father on the way to the shore and the boats.

Wil looked over at his son and saw the sullen look he bore, it was almost too much for him to stop from smiling. He knew Lysander would be like this, and that was why he had told him last night that he shouldn’t stay at his aunt Yurin’s house so late listening to Dael’s stories. Like any young man, he had stayed late anyway and as the result, did not get much sleep. Many fathers would simply point this out to their sons and use the result to mention how they should listen to them and how these things were told to them for a reason. Wil was not one of those fathers though, and Lysander not the type of son to willingly disobey his parents. So, Wil allowed him to learn from this, not by punishing him or lecturing him. Rather, he woke him up at the time he said he would and did not listen to Lysander’s pleas to be allowed to sleep. Still it was amusing, especially since he remembered similar situations while he was growing up.
 

The fresh breeze and the gorgeous morning quickly dispersed Lysander’s bad mood. He reflected that if he had slept in, then he never would have seen the dawn, or seen his father off to his ship. Besides, men were supposed to be up early and working to take care of the women. For a moment the picture of his mother up already baking bread entered his mind, but was quickly thrust aside. After all, that was just baking, not fishing

As they reach the rocky shore Lysander begins feeling bad about the way he had treated his father while his father was trying to get him up.

So, he did the only thing he felt that he could do, which was to apologize. “Do you have a moment?”

“Sure, what is it, Lys?” replies his father with a small smile playing about his lips and using his nickname for his son.

“Well, you know this morning…” Lysander kind of trails off after this.

“Yes,” prompts Wil.

“Well, I know some things were said and the like, but they weren’t meant. Just wanted you to know that’s all.”

“I know, and I’m proud of you for telling me that. It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong. It takes a real man to do that.” Noting his son’s bright grin he continues, “Now I’ve got to get going, the fish aren’t going to catch themselves ya know.” Putting a hand on his son’s shoulder he continues to the line of boats on the shale. As they get closer a few of the men look up from their various tasks and give a brief wave of greeting.

Lysander watches how easily the other men from the village interact with his father, how they all fall into casual conversation as the nets are pushed up and over the sides of the small boats. Wisecracks and laughter set the tone for the work making the nets seem lighter than they are.

Lysander throws himself into the work, knowing within a year he will be out here with these same men. It is his hope that he will get along with everyone as well as his father does. The words of thanks for his help and the smiles he gets are an indication that his hope may become a reality. In no time at all the boats are loaded with nets and food for the men, now it is just a matter of pushing the fishing boats out into the water.

All of the men get together next to first of the five boats. The lightest of the men, Hurin, jumps into the one of them to guide it once it hits water. Lysander joins the others as they begin pushing on the boat. Muscles strain and groans escape lips as the boat relentlessly moves to the ocean, its wood keel not so much gouging a line, but rather moving the many rocks out of its way as it slides into the water. As soon as one boat makes its way into the gentle swell, the men turn their attention to the next and the next until all are in the shallow water. Men grab proffered arms and clamber up the sides, joining their brethren already there. Wil, as the headman, is the last to stand on the shore. Giving the fishing boats and men a quick glance over making sure all is ready for another day’s work. Lysander stands next to his father looking over the same things, trying to see what it is his father takes care of, he knows that one day these same tasks will fall to him. Both Wil and Lysander seem to reach the same conclusions as they give a satisfied nod, their movements a near mirror of each other.

Reaching out Wil ruffles Lysander’s brown hair. “I’ll be seeing ya tonight my boy. Now mind yer mother and watch out for yer sister Cassi you hear?” With that said Wil reaches up to one of the waiting hands and gets aboard his own small boat.

Several oars are already unshipped and set in their rungs. A mighty shout comes from Wil as he bellows out orders to row. In unison the oars rise and fall in concert making each ship appear to be a graceful bird winging its way out to sea. When the boats are further out the oars are put back and the small white sails are unfurled to catch the slight breeze, so they might make it out to the good fishing grounds. As they begin shrinking against the vast ocean Lysander focuses on his father’s boat, which he picks out by the small gray pennant waving from the top of the short mast. He raises his hand in a final farewell and heads back to the village.

Going about his daily tasks Lysander doesn’t even pay attention to the gathering dark clouds, but while he is making his way back up to the fish pit to smoke yet more fish, he does take notice when the black clouds cover up the sun making the day dreary. Looking up to figure out what has happened he involuntarily ducks as a raindrop hits him in the face. That one drop is but a harbinger for in no time at all, countless numbers follow it in a furious charge towards the ground.

Muttering Lysander continues to the pit and quickly puts the rest of the fish in so he can get back home. The rain just keeps coming down, drenching him till his clothes feel like a second skin. Slipping and sliding down the hill he sees other people rushing towards their homes as well. Just as he reaches the bottom of the hill lightning shreds the clouds, almost immediately thunder booms so loudly he claps his hands to his ears. His worry a moment ago, his mother’s reaction to the mud splattered on him, is overwhelmed with fear. He knows what it means when the thunder sounds that fast. Quickly gathering his thoughts he keeps racing home.

Nearing the house Lysander sees his mother standing outside in the soaking downpour looking around franticly, her hair whipping about by the now strong gusts of wind. When she sees him her posture seems to relax a bit as she beckons him to hurry inside. Once inside Mayes quickly closes the door and holds her son to herself fiercely.

Another peal of thunder penetrates the walls causing the boy to jump, he is comforted by the fact that even his mother shook a little on that one. In the back room little Cassi starts crying and Mayes hurries off to go grab her. Returning with the crying child in her arms Mayes leads Lysander to her bedroom where they all get close on the bed. The closeness seems to comfort Cassi some as she quiets down and slightly loosens her grip from around her wooden horse. Jagged light illuminates the main room and part of the bedroom, then thunder erupts nearby. This starts Cassi to crying once more and Lysander shamelessly draws closer to his mother again. Outside the wind is picking up to a ferocious howling like some crazed animal. Crashes and bangs against the house make it seem that animal is trying to get in, trying to get them.

A blinding light erupts and an overpowering sound deafens the occupants of the house. It takes a moment for Lysander to blink away enough of the spots to see that he is now slumped against the bedroom wall. He can feel the rain pouring down on him even as his clothes try to tear themselves off of him. Looking upwards he cannot tell if those are stars or simply the dots in his eyes. Nearby his mother lays dazed, holding Cassi, though he can not hear the little girl crying for the ringing in his ears. A cool liquid rushes against his feet.

Suddenly a figure enters his blurred sight and Lysander feels himself being pulled from the floor, the next thing he knows is that he is weightless and floating above the ground. Vibrations seem to come from below him and he hears some distant shouting, though he still cannot make out much sound. A minute, an hour, a year later Lysander sees his mother being laid near him. Making an incredible effort he pulls himself up and crawls to his mother. Wiping some of the blood from her face he hopes she will see him. The effort is to no avail and he begins to weakly shake her. Several shakes later she finally notices him and gives him a small smile.

Another peal of thunder rings out, and Lysander’s hearing is back. All around him he hears whispered voices and sharp screams of pain. Slowly looking around him he notices a group of people around him. Looking up past flying skirts and inflated pants to mud streaked faces and teary eyes he sees that it is his neighbors that surround him. A nearby child screams loudly while a robed figure bends over its bloody leg, with realization it comes to Lysander that this is the same man from his house. The person looks up as he wipes the sweat and water from his brow quickly. Doing so gives Lysander a quick glimpse of who is trying to treat the child. It is Dael; his face looks drawn and haggard.

Seeing Dael, a constant in his life lately, gives him strength to push himself up. Standing up unsteadily Lysander uses the rough bark of a tree close to himself to steady upon. What meets his eyes is almost enough to make him fall back down again. The people are gathered on the hilltop where the village smokes its fish. Huge trees encircle them, groaning and creaking in the violent wind, but not managing to keep much rain off of them. Below, below was his village. Once well built houses and carefully tended vegetable patches, are... gone. All gone. Trees had fallen on houses others seemed to have exploded; his own house was missing some inner walls and much of the roof. Next he looked out to the sea. That hungry wave tossed sea had swallowed up the shore and was in the process of destroying the houses it could reach, and reach it did - half his home was already under those angry waves. Truly this could not be stopped or contained. He looks desperately for his father’s face amongst the people around so as to have him share in Lysander’s disbelief of the events. His father is nowhere to be seen in the crowd, and he notices that there are few men around him. All of them were still on their small boats in that weather. Strain though he might he cannot make out any sign of the ships. This is too much for him, for the worst comes to mind and the next gust of wind he loses control and he falls hard to the ground.

Landing hard he starts looking for his mother again and finds her holding his sister. Mayes is rocking back and forth holding Cassi, Lysander only stares at her in uncomprehending silence. A flash of lightning outlines that as his sister rocks along with his mother, her head stays cocked backwards. Only then does he note that the form is limp and Cassi’s wooden horse lays unloved in the mud. Shock causes him to pass out.

Dael wraps his still muddy arms about Lysander and draws him close to him. He shuts out the wind, the rain, the whole of the world except for this moment, this second. This young man needs him, he needs his strength. He gives a quick prayer to the Creator to let his strength shine through him and into Lysander. With the prayer finished he opens his eyes and looks down to the one he is holding. His drenched, raggedy beard hides the dirt smeared face that huddles next to him. He caresses the boy’s dark hair with grimy hands and murmurs soft words of strength.

Silent tears flow from the boy’s pain wracked eyes as he looks up at Dael imploringly. “Why, why did this have to happen? Why did she have to…” the last word he leaves unsaid as if the saying of the word will make it all too real. His gaze hesitatingly returns to the form in his mother’s arms. It was a reality that he would rather not face, though as he looks down at the broken body and hears the gasping sobs of his mother he knows that he cannot lie to himself. His sister is dead, she is gone and there was nothing he could do. That harsh thought and the unbearable guilt he feels make him give a small cry and collapse to his knees, splattering himself with mud and water.

His mother holds the limp form of his sister in her arms. Her tears wash Cassi’s face free of the dirt that stains it. It seems as if she is but sleeping, so peaceful does her face look. Her eyelids closed, her lips slightly parted, if he does not look at the unnatural angle of her neck he can almost convince himself that she was all right. He reaches out a tentative hand towards her, but his mother clenches her all the tighter, daring anyone to take away her baby. As she sobs she keeps saying everything is fine, that everything will be all right. She talks to Cassi as if she is still alive, the way she did when Cassi became scared of the dark. Lightning rips again across the sky and the light emphasizes the sharp angle that her head rests in his mother’s lap. He wrenches his eyes away from the small body with its calm face.

Instead he stares at the waves that throw themselves against the rocky beach. There are no signs of any of the fishing ships, only wooden debris that beach themselves against the rocks. Lysander thinks of his father who along with many men of the village had gone out in the morning just like any other day to do the day’s fishing. “He is gone too, I know it, there is no hope for anything else. It is not fair,” he mumbles to himself. Though his words are soft it seems his mother heard them for she begins to cry all the harder. She brings up the limp head of Cassi and holds it tight to her bosom. She rocks back and forth seemingly willing Cassi to live again with the strength of her love.

Dael releases Lysander and kneels next to Mayes, putting his gentle hands upon her shoulders. He looks towards the still storming sky for guidance in this time of pain and sorrow. He whispers soft reassurances into her ears and holds her with all of the strength that he has. She shakes her head as though she will not listen and tries to pull away from him all the while clinging desperately to Cassi’s body. He does not let her break free though, he holds her all the tighter and continues his soothing words. She in time quiets down some. Dael then begins to talk more loudly trying to reassure the others around them.

“The Creator shall grant us his strength in this time of loss. He will give us his wisdom so that we may remember the good things about those who left us. Take joy in those who remain and honor those who have left. Come, let us come together.” At first some people look at him with scorn for the pain they feel is too raw, too fresh, others willingly come to join him though. “Please my friends, my neighbors, we all need each other now. Let us share our grief so that we may become stronger through the sharing.” With that he raises his right arm and beckons to all who had not yet joined him. One by one they come together to form a large sobbing, shuddering mass. They pull together, the little village, like the family they are. Those in shock simply stand there being held by those who care; many others simply grasp someone and cry with them, for the closeness is a remembrance of life that comforted them in their sorrow.

Lysander alone does not join the other villagers. He stands, a mute witness to the pain they all feel. He himself knows it is welling up inside of him and tearing his heart apart. He looks up at the dark, clouded sky and for the first time realizes it is still raining, that it in fact it had not stopped, but rather that he had simply stopped noticing it. With that realization, he feels the cold that has seeped into his bones and it hits him hard and quick. His body begins to shudder and it is as if he will simply shake himself apart. All the while he continues staring upwards. The sound of Dael’s quiet words of consolation and prayers to the creator reach his ears. The love and compassion that is being poured forth is consumed by his sorrow and is lost upon him. The eyes that are so full of pain slowly transform to be filled with a rage instead; he throws back his head and screams up at the very heavens themselves. “You, you have done nothing for me! Why have you done this to us? What have I done that is so wrong?!” His demands grow in volume and his need for an answer grows as well with each question. With his last question he has caused several of the villagers to look towards him. He does not care, if indeed he even notices. He waits for his answers, but all he receives is silence. The rage that he had felt now overwhelms him until he cannot contain it anymore. A scream that is primal and filled with all of the rage and hurt inside of him is ripped from his soul.

The villagers become silent at the shocking noise and stare at him in astonishment, and some stare in fear. Dael begins to push himself up off the soggy ground to reach Lysander and give him what reassurances he can, as he does so Lysander throws him a look filled with angry determination. As Dael struggles the rest of the way up, Lysander runs towards the water as fast as he can. The water still crashes against the rocks trying to devour the earth itself. Clods of earth and sand fly up as Lysander races towards the crashing surf. Mumbling that no one else in his family is going to die, he stares up at the wind tossed clouds and promises the Creator that he will save his own father.

“No! Lysander, come back!”, Dael yells at the departing figure. Seeing that the fleeing form does not respond, he struggles after it. He knows that he cannot catch him in his weighted down clothing, yet pushes on with fierce determination. Lysander reaches the rocky beach and leaps from one rock to another, never breaking his stride, the ocean spray flies all around him as he gets further out from shore. Fearlessly Lysander throws himself into the water with full abandon. The fear that he will find the boys broken body washed upon the beach after being thrown against the jagged rocks spurs Dael to a speed he has not had since his youth. Not spying Lysander anywhere he makes his own way further out on the perilous rocks.

Lysander hits the cold water with full force from his flying leap. The impact dazes him, but the prickling then numbing sensation the water causes brings his awareness back. Panic seizes him as he is not sure which direction is up, which direction he should swim. Each moment of indecision wastes another precious second of air. A steely confidence enters him; he knows that he will not die. That he cannot die. The Creator owes him too much now. With that final thought he begins swimming. After what seems like an eternity, each stroke becomes labored as he slowly runs out of air. His lungs hurt, his eyes burn from the harsh salt water, and dark wisps seem to edge his vision. It appears that he has gotten no further and the surface is as elusive as ever. He continues on though, and is finally rewarded with the sight of the wave tossed surface above him.

He forces out several mighty strokes and his head breaks the surface, he gasps for air and it is sweet. Treading water and still breathing deeply he looks about him to gain his positioning. As he turns he is engulfed by an oncoming wave that drives him back under the water. He feels the powerful tidal force churning all about him. The caustic water has already invaded his throat and lungs. He comes back up coughing and struggling to stay afloat. Riding the waves he gets control of himself once more and continues in his search. He spies several pieces of debris at the horizon and swims towards them, eager to find his father and prove his doubts false.

Tirelessly he swims further and further into the angry sea, fighting every wave that crashes upon him. In every upsurge he sees a foe that stands between him and the truth, so he attacks each wave and conquers it madly, heading towards the last area he saw the boats in the morning. Soon the determination leaves him though, fleeing in wake of the new horrors he sees. Mocking his mission the waves prove his worst of fears to be true. Wooden planks and rope swirl about him, intensifying his precarious position. Then, as if to add a final insult to him, he sees a body flung about near him. With a cry of dread he surges towards the body. Upon reaching the lifeless form he grasps it with a tentative touch. Rocking upon the water it takes a few moments to turn the body and see its face. Relief washes over him as it registers that this is not his father. Then he really sees the face. “No!”, he yells, for it is one of the men that worked with his father.

Lysander starts screaming and crying at the same time, while pushing away from the body, desperate to get away from it and the implications it bears. Struggling against the current he gets caught up in a large curl. He is forced underwater once more, and once again he struggles to the surface. Turning to face the oncoming wave all he sees is a wall of water crashing down upon him, coming to swallow him as it did his father’s boat. The next thing that he feels is a solid thump against his skull and then blackness engulfs him. One final thought escapes. “I join you, father…”

 

Story written by Drogo View Profile