~ An Edda by ***Guardian Soul**** and ***What? **** ~ This is a tale about five young chosen individuals that act as guardians of light in a united world. A tale of inner strength and courage. ***C H A P T E R S**** PROLOGUE. Awakening. As of late, I’ve been having these dreams. Dreams of a city. This city has no sun and it has never seen a clear sky before, yet it is never entirely dark. A light, although faint and flickering, shines and gives form to this city. The streets and alleyways are empty and desolate yet there are shadows with nothing to cast them and soft whispers with no mouths to utter them. In this city, I am isolated for there is no life but myself but I always feel that something exists alongside me in this world. Something that is similar to me but also my polar opposite. But today was different. Today I heard a sound, the sound of glass shattering. It came from the second floor of the house that I had been staying in. What could have caused it? Nothing happened in this ominous city unless I caused it. Something else was here. For once, I wasn’t alone. I knew I shouldn’t have looked but my curiosity got the best of me. There was a disturbance, a change in an otherwise static world and I had to investigate it. Being cautious of my surroundings, I walked up the stairs quietly and as I reached the second floor, I could hear the creaking of a door. At the end of the hallway, one of the doors to the room was slightly open, allowing some of the light to shine through. I continued to walk across the hallway slowly, paying close attention to my surroundings, and then I approached the door. Taking in a deep breath to calm down, I pushed the door open. I didn’t enter for fear of whatever was inside but from my point of view, there were no signs of life and what was even weirder was that there was no broken glass. I was sure that I had heard the sound of glass breaking but could I have been mistaken? Confused, I walked into the room and then the door slammed shut behind me. A chill ran down my spine and I ran to the door and tried to open it up but no matter how much I pulled on the doorknob, it was shut and I was trapped inside this room. With beads of sweat running down my brow, I started to breathe heavily and then I heard it again, the sound of glass shattering. But the window was still intact. What was being broken!? And then I noticed it. The thing that was being broken was not glass but instead the floor. The floor was cracking and small shards of it were already missing. And then the sound of shattering came once again. The floor cracked more and an even bigger piece of it fell through but it didn’t fall through to the floor below. Underneath the floor, there was nothing, just an endless abyss. Damn it! What do I do now? Fear no more for you shall be safe. “Who are you?” I called out as the floor started to fall apart under me. But there was no response. Could this voice be trusted?, I thought as I continued to pull against the door with all of my strength. But something on the other side was holding it tightly. Somebody wanted me to fall. I opened my mouth and began to shout and call for help as I banged my fist against the door. And suddenly, to my horror, the floor shattered beneath my feet. My eyes widened in alarm as I slowly started to realize what was happening. I tried to reach out and grab the doorknob but suddenly, the image of the door vanished, broken by a ripple as though it was nothing more than a reflection on the surface of water. I leaned back. I knew at this point that there was no hope. There was no use crying for help. Nobody would help me. ~////~ It was cold. It was dark. It felt as though he was sinking into the depths of the great blue. But this was different. He could feel the cool air rush over his skin. It felt as though he was falling from the heavens and down to earth but it also felt like drowning in water at the same time. He continued to sink further and further into the depths, spiraling downwards headfirst until his feet started to grow heavy, as if they were being pulled down to the surface like iron to a magnet and gently his feet touched ground. He looked around in confusion but he couldn’t see anything. There was nothing but darkness, and not a single soul in sight. He was utterly alone in this dark abyss. But he knew that he couldn’t be afraid and that this was just a dream, a figment of his subconscious, and nothing more. Sooner or later, he would wake up in his bed, safe and sound. Right? He took a brave step forward and the sound of his footstep resonated and as it echoed, the floor beneath his feet began to shine brightly and he had to shield his eyes as the darkness broke away into pieces, unveiling the floor and revealing its true form. Turning his head slightly, he looked around in shock and as he looked at the darkness flying away, he realized that they weren’t dark fragments and that they were actually birds, flying away into the furthest reaches of the abyss. He turned his head to the right and looked over his shoulder and then looked straight ahead. He stood on top of a small circular glass platform that rose from the darkness like a pillar. This platform was tinted red and on its glass surface, there was a simple sigil. The sigil was a simple line that spiraled from the center of the platform and continued to twist for most of the area of the circle until it stopped right in front of the boy’s feet. Looking down at the end of the spiral, the boy realized that strange glyphs were written on the floor right below his feet and he stepped back to read them. ЖИВАГО Furrowing his brow, he ran his hand over his ruffled dark brown hair and scratched his head in confusion. He had never seen these types of scripts before. Maybe it was from a language of a far away country. Suddenly he heard a voice and he spun his body in a full circle to see if there was anybody behind him, but there was nobody there. The voice seemed to come from everywhere but also from nowhere at the same time. Or maybe it came from within the boy himself. Power sleeps within you A pillar of light erupted from the surface of the platform to his right and as the light dissipated, a stone tablet revealed itself and floating above this tablet was a grey staff with a silver lion’s head attached to the top. If you give it form… Turning his body to the left just in time, the boy was able to see yet another pillar of light erupt before him and as it faded away, another stone tablet revealed. Perched on this tablet was a grey shield with a silver outline on its edges and in the middle, there was a silver lion’s head. The same design as the one on the wand. …it will give you strength And yet one more beam appeared before the boy, this time in front of him. The tablet that had been revealed by the light held a broadsword with a grey guard and a silver hilt. The boy looked at each in turn, baffled, and then the voice called out to him again. Choose wisely Turning to the tablet that held the staff, he walked forward and stared at the staff in amazement. Magic. It had always fascinated him. Instead of power that was limited by your body like strength, it was truly limitless. If you could imagine it, you could do it. He stepped in front of the tablet and climbed on top of it to claim his weapon. Holding it in his hands, he looked at it in awe, his eyes widening with wonder. It felt light in his hands like it was made for him to wield. It had a very simple design, which would probably make it not only useful for magic, but for bashing things with as well. The power of the mystic. Inner strength. A staff of wonder and ruin... Is this the power you seek? He looked up into the black sky, wondering to himself who the voice was and if its bearer would reveal themselves. He looked back to the staff that laid in his hands and quietly said, “Yes,” as he nodded his head. In a flash of light, the staff in his hand broke into small particles of light. As the light disappeared, he could feel its power flow through his body. Your path is set. Now... what will you give up in exchange? He turned around and glanced at the other two tablets. “Give up?” Power came at a price. He walked to the center of the platform and looked at the shield. No. Who wanted to be strong and weak at the same time? His eyes drifted from the shield to the sword. He swallowed hard and started to walk in the direction of its tablet. He pulled himself onto the tablet and held the sword in his hand. The power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction. Do you give up this power? Frowning as he looked at the sword, he swallowed and nodded his head for approval. Just like the staff, the sword broke into pieces of light but this time, he didn’t feel anything enter his body this time. It simply disappeared into the air. The boy looked up to the darkness again, waiting for the voice to call again, but there was silence. Suddenly there was a jolt below his feet that had almost made him lose his balance and fall off the platform. He looked down at his feet and realized that the platform was sinking into the stained glass image. There was another quake this time, causing the boy to tumble off the tablet and onto the platform. He stood up quickly, realizing that the stained glass was shattering and falling to the depths, enveloped by the darkness. Run, he thought, but where to? There was no place to run to in this chasm. He hoped that he wouldn’t fall again, that maybe he would float in the air, but his hopes were broken when the floor beneath his feet broke and he fell through. ~////~ His eyelids were heavy. Was he falling again? No, he could feel that he was laying down on something solid. He snapped his eyes open and with some effort, he got on his feet. It was another platform, just like the one before. It glowed with a brilliant blue and this one held a picture on its surface. The focal of the image was that of a woman and a lion while the rest of the image that covered the platform had been decorated with floral flourishes. The maiden in white, while calm and gentle, was also dominant and was able to subdue and calm the lion. Why did the picture feel so familiar to him? But his memory was foggy. All he could remember was the dream and how he had gotten here. Everything else was a blank. He looked up and around but there were no traces of the platform that he fell from, just darkness. It was rather off-putting to think that maybe this platform would break as well whenever he was finished with the next task before him. Suddenly there was a flash of light in his right palm and when it faded, in his hand rested the staff that he had selected at the first platform. You’ve gained the power to fight. Take a swing. Catching him by surprise, the boy jumped back a little bit. He wanted to yell at the voice but what would it do in the end? He called the shots in this place and there was nothing he could do about it. The faster that he completed what was asked of him, the faster he would wake up. Hopefully. Holding the staff tightly with both hands, he swung at the air like he was hitting a baseball. There will be times when you have to fight. There will be times when you will need to protect others. Remember this well. Protect others? Could I truly do such a thing?, he thought. It had always been the other way around for him. Whether it was at school or around the neighborhood, he had never been able to stand up for himself. Somebody had always helped him along the way. But what is his name?, he thought, straining himself as he tried to remember. Watch your back. The voice caught him by surprise, but the boy’s body followed the order and reacted instinctively by gripping the staff tightly in his hands like a baseball bat and turning his body on the heel of his foot while he swung. The staff connected before he was attacked, causing the creature that it hit to explode into a puff of darkness. The boy had only caught a glimpse of the thing that attacked him but he had never seen such a thing before. It had a somewhat humanoid form like that of a child but its body was as black as the abyss, it had sharp claws instead of hands and on its head, it had two antennas and two beady yellow eyes. The power within shines brightly but don’t be afraid of the darkness… Suddenly three dark spots that looked like ink stains started to appear on the area around the boy, taking the form of the creature that he had just defeated and surrounding him. They rose from their two dimensional shadows and stood before him. His eyes widened in fear and his hands began to shake. The boy looked at each of them and started to step back but he had no place to run to. He looked down at his trembling arms and wondered if he could actually face them. Then suddenly a voice, no, a memory called out to him. “Come on, keep your head up and always push forward.” “That’s right,” he whispered as he lifted his head up and turned around to glance at each of the shadows that surrounded him. Taking in deep breath, his right hand tightened around the staff and the trembling began to stop as he held the staff with one hand and bended his knees, getting into a stance. In unison, the shadows began to crawl towards the boy as he stood in front of them, standing still. They jumped at the boy with their claws ready to attack, but before any of them could attack, the boy said, “Too slow,” and spun around with the hand holding the staff outward, hitting each of the creatures in the head in succession and making them explode into black mist. …but instead, let the darkness flow free. Suddenly the sound of static screeched throughout the area. Holding his head in pain, the boy massaged his forehead with his fingers gently to aid the headache. Confused, he looked around to see that dark blotches were staining the glass-like surface of the platform. Like a disease, they continued to spread across the floor. The boy looked down at his feet. The darkness…it was everywhere! It continued to spread, trapping him until it finally enveloped the floor beneath his feet. The black void, like quicksand, started to pull him down while he struggled, trying to pull himself free. Darkness is often misunderstood. While the darkness was still up to his waist, he tried to lift himself out of it, tried to pull himself toward what was left of the glowing blue platform, tried to grab hold of anything that could help him. Without darkness there can be no light... So how can darkness be truly evil? He held out his hand, hoping that somebody would grab it and save him from being swallowed. But he continued to sink further and further and his eyes started to widen as all of his body was pulled into the void. So don’t be afraid of the dark, embrace it. ------------ Writer's Note: Wow, I sure do take my time when I write but I'm impressed with myself. I should give myself a pat on the back. This story basically started off as a random spur of the moment idea that me and What were discussing. At the beginning, we weren't really thinking of going through with it but after coming up with so many ideas and coming up with an actual plot, it suddenly became "Why aren't we writing this yet!?" and here we are. I hope you guys enjoy. We have much more in store. CnC is very welcome because seriously, who doesn't want to improve?