Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark

A Story by Isemay
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A short story being submitted for an anthology ... whether or not it's worth picking up we'll see.

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Nara Heiden listened to the commotion as she hid in the root cellar. The voices carried into the cold dirt-floored room through the small sunken window she had left slightly ajar. The white cloaked Inquisitors who had passed through Estmer in the daylight had returned, hunting their quarry.

 

Every family in the village with daughters had probably hidden them away by now, having heard the stories of what happened to the girls who caught their eye. Tortured until they confessed to dealings with demons and then burned to purify their souls. Muli Edise, the tinker’s daughter, had been one of them. The old man had come through spreading the tale of horror and telling people they needed to fight the Inquisitors. Monsters that pretended to be men of the God of Light.

 

He’d been killed not long after that. People still talked about it, but much more quietly now.

 

The Inquisitors were looking for someone. They were demanding that her father let them into the house. Nara desperately looked around for somewhere to hide. There was nowhere. Her mind was boiling with ways to escape. The window. She could climb out. She moved toward it and craned her neck catching a hint of a man’s whispered order to watch the windows on that side. She shook her head, no escape. And trying would make her look guilty, hiding would make her look guilty, she realized with terror. She grabbed an old bit of basket used for sorting out the potatoes and immediately tossed a few good ones on it as well as a few of the better apples and marched purposefully toward the stairs she was halfway up them when the door was flung open  and a smug looking Inquisitor stared down at her, his face changing to surprise when she kept walking up keeping her frightened face as calm as she could.

 

She went to her mother and asked quietly, “Are these good? Or should I get more?” She glanced at the two armed men eyeing her suspiciously.

 

Her mother’s hands trembled as she made a show of looking over the things she had brought up. “These are good, go-go wash them up, peel and cut them for the stew.”

 

“Yes, mother.” Nara moved carefully past the men to the bucket of washing water and started to scrub them up as she’d been told. She kept her eyes on her hands. After a time, once they had torn through the house and watched her peel and slice the potatoes and apples and bring them to her mother, they left. Nara and her mother hadn’t realized they’d been holding their breaths until they let them out together, once the white cloaked men had crossed the threshold. It took a moment for them to realize Nara’s father wasn’t coming back in.

 

Nara and her mother crept to the door and peered through it, hearts in their throats. Her father was stumbling back from the barn, looking as though he’d been beaten. Her mother let out a strangled shriek and rushed from the door to her husband. She helped him inside and told Nara to fetch fresh water. Nara did as she was told.

 

When she returned with the cold water from the well, her father had been stripped and was laying on the table on top of one of her mother’s old quilts. Her mother was cutting up the backing for another one she had been making. It was clear her father’s back was torn to shreds. His face almost looked worse. Nara closed her eyes and shuddered.

 

Her mother’s sharp tone snapped her out of her horror. “Get that water on the boil, this minute! I want you to slip down to Tevrel’s and tell him … tell him your father needs stitching.”

 

Nara nodded. The water had barely been put on to boil when she rushed out of the house. She knew the way. Tevrel’s house, like theirs, was at the edge of the village, but on the other side. Usually, she’d cut through town, but she could hear the clamor the Inquisitors were causing. There were screams and wails. She decided to go around.

 

Skirting their side of the village, she had to cut through fields and clamber over rough wooden fences meant for cattle or horses, and she shivered as she entered the stretch of forest that backed against the opposite side of Estmer. Nara had never been afraid of the forest, she had gathered wood here and hunted for mushrooms every fall with her mother. But tonight, the closeness of the trees made her think of all of the tales she’d ever been told of wolves and monsters and even demons catching people unawares. She shivered. The only monsters that she needed to be wary of right now were the ones in white.

 

As quietly as she could, every crackle and snap of leaves and twigs underfoot making her heart pound in her chest, she made her way to Tevrel’s. His house was dark. She slipped to the back door and knocked quietly. There was no answer.

 

A soft voice spoke from the darkness nearby, “They took him, and his wife. They always look at healers with suspicion.”

 

Nara turned and strained her eyes trying to make out who was speaking, “Who?”

 

“What did you come for?” The voice inquired.

 

Nara had a sudden sinking feeling that it must be one of the Inquisitors. “My-my father needs stitching.”

 

“Ah.” The shape of a man moved out of the shadows. Instead of white he wore dark clothes and a hooded cloak, and in the pale moonlight she could not tell what color they should be, but his skin, where it showed, was so pale it looked white and his eyes caught the light like a cat’s.

 

Nara was suddenly unsure if she should be relieved that he wasn’t an Inquisitor or terrified that she was face to face with a demon. Her shock and conflicted emotions must have shown on her face because he pulled back his hood and let her see his amused smile. He looked like the handsome depictions of angels in the paintings inside the altar, the ones only shown on the four holiest days of the year.

 

“Are-Are you an angel?” She asked in surprise and awe.

 

The man’s face split into a grin and he began to laugh, a beautiful silvery sound. When he stopped he smiled at her warmly, “I was once. Though we have been exiled from the warmth of the Light, we still consider ourselves to be. But you call us by another name, sweet child.”

 

“A Demon.” She felt inexplicably bad about saying it as she watched his smile fade. She studied his beautiful face. “Are you who they’re hunting? Shouldn’t you be running from them?”

 

He smiled sadly. “They aren’t hunting me. They’re obeying their God. His first commandment is to fear him and this is how they worship, they spread fear of their God. He had brothers once, the Light was love, the Light was grace, the Light was joy.” He sighed and shook his head but Nara remembered a story her grandmother had told.

 

“Adobeh, Ineuss, Ediluh, and Rodos.” She murmured and the man looked at her startled.

 

“How do you know those names, child?” He weighed her with his gaze.

 

“My grandmother told me a story once. Four brothers who made the world and ruled in the Light, love, grace, joy, and fear. All beautiful and all necessary, but one day one of the brothers decided to see who was the strongest and they went out among the people they had made and-and,” she looked at the man in front of her who looked as though he wanted to weep. “She said fear won. Rodos won and cast his brothers out and that’s why we have to guard our joy, and give love to all, and grant grace to those that we can bear to. On lowest of the four holy days, the longest night, she said it was really the best one and she would wish us joy and Ediluh’s Light, on the highest, the longest day, she painted ash on her face.” She watched the man’s smile return with a fierceness as she spoke.

 

“I wish I could have met your grandmother, but I am grateful to have met you. So few know the old names, or any small part of the story.” His glowing eyes sparkled.

 

The sound of wailing in the village got louder and horrible screams worse than anything Nara had ever heard began to ring in the night air. Nara shuddered and the man closed his eyes and began to murmur in a soft musical language that she did not understand. Her mind tingled. The sounds of horror faded and she wondered how her grandmother knew that the story she had told was true. Angels being called demons and cast into the darkness, and monsters walking bold as brass in the light of day. If they could see this man they would see he’s no demon … but couldn’t they see the demons they were letting torture and kill with impunity, the ones in white?

 

The idea began to form, a divine gift given to her out of the darkness. They could see. They just needed to be shown. She began to speak quietly and urgently to the angel or demon who stood in front of her. His smile was grim.

 

He pulled up his hood and they walked silently into Estmer together. When they came across an Inquisitor, the demon killed him quickly and quietly, granting him the peaceful death he had denied to so many others. And then he donned his white clothes. They parted ways just before they reached the crowd of milling, horrified people. People watching and waiting for their loved ones to either be brought out of the church and shoved into their arms or to be taken to the piles of firewood and broken furniture being assembled. The first few had been burned alive, a young mother, and two sisters who had always been sweet, if a bit odd. Their families were still sobbing at the edges of the crowd.

 

The demon climbed upon the makeshift scaffold that had been erected for the Inquisitors to make their decrees. In all white, he did look angelic, and for a moment Nara was afraid her plan might not work as she had hoped.

 

She tugged the arm of the villager next to her and pointed wordlessly. Before she could even get the words out he bellowed, “Demon! An Inquisitor! THE INQUISITORS ARE DEMONS!”

 

The startled Inquisitors looked where he was pointing and the demon in Inquisitors’ clothes barked as he drew his sword, “Kill them all! Word cannot spread!”

 

The fear and horror the villagers felt turned in an instant to rage. Incandescent, merciless, and pure.

 

The Inquisitors were armed with swords, but the villagers were armed with planks and clubs, scythes and anything else that fell to hand in their fury. Farming folk were always resourceful.

 

There were many injured, and some killed, but when the fighting was done it was the Inquisitors who had the worst of it. Those who survived the fight were tied to their own stakes and burned. At dawn, they would make sure that word would spread. It would spread like wildfire. Once people had seen it, the evil of it, it would be as plain as day and the reign of terror the Inquisitors had held would begin to crumble. It wouldn’t end overnight, but it began overnight. Out of the dark, the Light began to shine.

 

 

 

°°°°°°°

Tevrel found himself with more to do than he’d ever had and he’d been tortured himself on top of it. There was no chance of him coming out to tend her father. Nara was resigned as she slowly walked back to her home. At the very least, even if she could never speak of it to anyone, she had done something worth doing tonight. Something that she could be proud of.

 

As she crossed the dark yard between her house and the barn, she saw two eyes glowing in the darkness near the door, almost like an incredibly large cat. She couldn’t keep herself from breaking into a relieved smile. The angel, or demon, she still wasn’t entirely sure which, stepped out into the moonlight and placed his hand over his heart.

 

“I have a gift for you, sweet child. You said your father needed stitching? He is in need of healing? Please, take this.” From under his dark cloak, he pulled a cloth bag nearly as large as her father’s fist. “He should drink the tea made from these herbs and use the spent soaked remains to make a poultice for the worst of his wounds. You’ll find he heals quickly.” He smiled, almost unbearably beautiful in the pale light.

 

Nara took the bag gratefully and found she could not summon up words to thank him. Instead, she threw her arms around his neck and embraced him. He laughed softly, his laugh as silver as the moon above.

 

She stepped back and smiled up at him gratefully, “Thank you, I-I don’t even know what to call you.”

 

He touched her face gently. “Angel or demon, you may call me Haam.”

 

She smiled and took his hand. “Haam, angel or demon, you are always welcome here.”


© 2017 Isemay



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Reviews

You said you usually go long, yet this is the perfect, short length it needs to be! Your language is so descriptive and makes it feel like it actually takes place in an old, faraway land. I also loved the metaphors and unexpected descriptions, like comparing a laugh with silver, or Haam weighing Nara with his eyes.

Posted 2 Months Ago


I loved the names you gave for the characters, things, places, whatever, it was awesome. Definitely love story with good names! I also quite enjoyed your tone and voice, it suits the story you're telling very well!

Posted 3 Months Ago


Isemay

3 Months Ago

Thank you! I love names. I can spend hours on name sites.
Monatora

3 Months Ago

Me too!
I have such loooong lists of names I plan to use but never get around to it.
.. read more
Seldomly I read something longer than a poem, that being said, I enjoyed this story way too much. From the very first paragraph I was hooked right away, I cannot pin point exactly what it was, perhaps the piece as a whole, but something regarding the style I found it refreshing, though I cannot say what.

Posted 4 Months Ago


Isemay

4 Months Ago

Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it!

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Added on June 30, 2017
Last Updated on July 4, 2017
Tags: Angels, Demons, fantasy

Author

Isemay
Isemay

Germany



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Bitten by a writing bug! Review my writing and I will gladly return the favor! I love reading other people's stories, and I try to review honestly and give constructive criticism. I love receivi.. more..

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