Dark by S. Park

Part one The Light that Casts the Shadow

It was gray.

That was all I knew at first, gray. The sky above was cloudy and gray. The shallow water below reflected it. The mist that filled the room was gray too, everything was gray. Even the sandy islet and the dead tree that stood there were in subdued tones. There was no color in this world.

I was one with the mist and the water. I existed, but I had little awareness. I had no eyes to see, no hands to feel. No feet to stand on. I was aware of the gray around me only dimly.

But I had a purpose.

I didn't know what it was, but I felt it burning in me. There would come a moment when I would fulfill my purpose, and I waited for that moment with the patience that only a being such as I, formless and knowing nothing other than waiting, could have.

I do not know how much time passed. It might have been days, it might have been years. But the day came when the door that led to the gray chamber opened.

Color suddenly entered my world. Gold, red, blue, vivid tones that I had never seen came into my world, born by the being who stepped through the door. My purpose flared brightly in me from the moment his boot touched the water that stood in the misty chamber. And more than my purpose, my identity.

I was him. I remembered him, his life, in a flash. His childhood among the peaceful Kokiri. His quest to save a princess and a kingdom. His experiences and his skills, all poured into me. And more, for his very being became mine, and in that moment I had form and flesh. But more still, for I had my purpose, and that purpose took those memories and showed me their futility. He served light, but light was destined to fail. Darkness has ruled his kingdom for seven years, and it would rule it for a seven thousand more. Light stood no chance against it.

He was nearly across the chamber by the time I finished becoming. I appeared with a sneer on my face, certain of victory. I existed to destroy him. I had been created for it, and I would not fail.

The little spark that hovered by his shoulder cried out warning, and he spun, but I gave him no time for thought, I attacked, my sword that was the twin to his sword raised high. He countered. I had known he would. I knew his training intimately, it was my training too. Nevertheless I was confident. Darkness was stronger than light. I would win.

He backed away from me, and I nearly laughed. He knew it too, he was afraid! He reached for his bow, but it was easy to block the arrows, I knew where they would be aimed before he shot them. He attacked again with his sword, but that was even simpler, I blocked every blow. And he failed to block several of mine. My confidence soared, I was indeed his better!

And then he stepped back and sheathed his sword. I could read his face all too easily, he was planning something, some new attack. But what would it be?

Then he pulled a great war hammer from his magical pack. I felt a flicker of unease. I had no hammer of my own, I had been provided only with sword and shield. And while the shield served well to counter the arrows and most of the other weapons I knew he bore, the hammer was different. It could break the shield. Still my purpose drove me, so I moved to attack him again. He must die. Killing him was my world, it was all I knew.

I dodged his first hammer blow, and hope welled up in me. Then the second slammed into me, and I only just blocked it with the shield. I was thrown back from the blow, and the shield was cracked.

Another blow and I was left only with ruined shards attached to my arm.

The last I could neither block nor dodge. I could hear my own bones breaking as it hit me in the chest. Pain filled me and I fell to lie in the shallow water. I dimly heard the sound of the door I had guarded opening. He had beaten me and the way lay open before him. I had failed. And I was dying. The gray I had always known was giving way to black, which slowly closed in around me.

Then I heard something I had not expected. Footsteps splashing through the shallow water. Blue eyes, bright and intense, looked down into mine. I didn't know their color. But his were a blue so brilliant the purity of it hurt. The hurt would be gone soon with all the others. Already my body felt distant, numb.

There was yet another sound, the sound of a bottle being uncorked. It was followed by a fluttering of fairy wings. And then, amazingly, miraculously, the pain that filled me faded. Not to blackness and death, but to health, to healing. I sat up, and he, the owner of those blue eyes, stepped back from me. He turned towards the door that I had failed to guard.

"Wait!" I called out, surprised by the sound of my own voice. He stopped and turned. "Why?" I asked. "Why did you heal me?"

He said nothing, but simply turned again and left, his fairy following after him.

And the door shut, leaving me alone in a colorless world once more.