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Aelfsward: The Under Realms

So I have started the initial edit of Aelfsward:  Under Realms.  I have my work cut out for me.  This is Chapter 1 so far.  Suggestions?  Thank you.

Warning:  Potential Spoiler Alert for book #1

Aelfsward:  Under Realms

By William S. Frisbee

The darkness tried to suffocate me, closing in, threatening me as I stood in a small, shrinking pool of light.  My feet disappeared into the shadows.

A soft whisper came from the emptiness.

“I will devour your soul.”

There were eyes upon me and the whispering in the darkness made little sense.  Clenching my fists I would not go down easy.  My pants would not protect me from claws or razor-sharp teeth, but I had fists and teeth of my own.

A shiver ran down my spine.

Unarmed and unarmored, the surrounding darkness was not empty, and the light was dying.  My heart hammered in my chest and there wasn’t enough air to breath.  A coldness reached into me and made my bones ache.

“I will destroy your forest, it will be burned to the ground along with everything in it,” a familiar voice whispered.  “You have stolen what is mine.”

I moved my head around, trying to find where the voice came from.  It seemed to come from everywhere.

“But I will not kill you,” the speaker said.  “No.  That would be a mercy.  Nor will I let you devolve into insanity.”

The whispering in the darkness grew in volume as more whisperers joined the chorus.

“I know your crimes,” the voice told me, amused.  “I will help you remember them.  Every single one.  I will let you relive them as they shred your soul with their evil.”

“All talk and no play,” I said to the shadows.  I failed to keep the fear and indecision out of my voice and the darkness laughed at me.

There is no rush,” the voice whispered in my ear, like a sultry lover.  “You will have all of eternity to suffer.  You did not kill me, that is impossible, but you have angered me.  That is also a lesser crime.  I will return to your pathetic little world and when I do, your forest will burn.”

A hand with razor-sharp claws slashed out of the shadows to rake my chest, disappearing back into the darkness before I could get a look at it, but results remained.  The cuts on upper body were oozing blood and stung.  My attacker had struck at me from the front and I had been helpless.

“I will not kill all your friends,” the voice said.  “No.  They will become my slaves and suffer for your crimes.  They will be violated in every way imaginable, just as I will violate your soul and everything you hold dear.  Your forest will be destroyed for protecting you.  That is within my power.”

The blood on my chest slid down to my stomach and lower.

In the darkness a pair of eyes opened.  White milky, sightless orbs, that locked upon me.

More eyes opened.  In seconds I was surrounded by blind eyes, staring at me.

“You are alone,” the voice said.  “There is no one to save you.  I will find you.  The forest cannot hide you or what is mine.”

I turned around.  Looking in every direction, those deathly eyes stared at me.  There were too many to count.  I recognized those eyes as belonging to manes.  Slave soldiers from the depths of hell.  Long claws and sharp teeth seemed to gleam in the shadows and I had nothing more than my hands and bare skin.

“You are not alone,” a voice whispered in my ears.  A woman’s voice.  It filled me with warmth.  A long slender hand came to rest on my shoulder, a familiar hand.  Behind me a flame sprung to life and the surrounding manes backed up as the light from the fire revealed space around me.

Something large growled, but I found it comforting.  That growl warned others that I was not alone and I was not prey.

“I am not alone Brathius,” I yelled at the darkness.  My hand closed about the familiar hilt of my sword.  “I will not submit and I will defeat you again.”

The demon laughed.  I looked for him around me, looking for eyes that were different, some place to direct my attack but then I was falling.  Brathius had black eyes with a pupil of molten fire in the center and I couldn’t spot them.  The lifeless eyes of the manes faded into the darkness.

“Show yourself!” I yelled at Brathius.  “Coward!”

I struggled and awoke as I leapt to my feet, my hand clutching my sword, preparing to draw it from its sheath.

“Show yourself!” I yelled again and looked around me at my companions, they were now awake, pulled from their own slumber to stare at me as they grabbed their own weapons.

“It was a dream beloved,” Starlily whispered at me, holding my arm.  Her voice still filled me with warmth and I could hear just a trace of fear.  Chuff looked at me from the doorway to my home.  His eyes held knowledge and understanding.

The light from the dying cooking fire flickered in my cave, making the carving of cats, trees and waterfalls covering my walls look alive.

Forcing myself to relax I nodded.

“I’m sorry,” I said to my companions who relaxed.  A chill went down my spine.  I gripped my sword tightly to try and keep my hands from shaking.

Gothar, the over muscled dwarf leaned his axe against the wall and pulled his blanked over him.  Bren lay down and covered himself again with his cloak as Starlily pulled me back down to our sleeping area, holding me close.  I was weak for letting a bad dream do this to me.  I was in my home.

Out of the corner of my eye I saw Lady Windsong following me with her eyes, her expression unreadable in the shadows.

“It was just a dream,” Starlily said, but I knew better.  My chest was not oozing blood but I could trace where the blood should be flowing, it still stung.

I stared at the demon cursed dragon sword leaning against the wall near Bren and Nightbreeze.  It didn’t belong here.  Like the goblin dagger from so long ago, it defiled this place.

Shaking my head, I lay back down, trying to ignore the feeling that the sword was watching me, waiting.

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