Return of Darkness

"Everything's peaceful now. No fear, no shadow, no more rescuing rapousa from dragons, evil trees or fish. No more wondering, What's going to happen next? But I can still remember when it wasn't like this. I still have nightmares. Hello, I am the creation hero, and my name is Tree. I have fought the darkness more times than I care to count. The most recent? Only a few weeks ago. Here, I'll tell you."

Mari ran up to me. "Tree you have to come now! I think I just saw…"

She didn't have to finish. "Where?" I asked.

"By the docks. Pirate Beard is holding them off, but I don't know how long they'll last."

I told her to get Cricket and tell him what was happening. After she left I grabbed my sword and headed for the docks. I had a fight to win.

Wilfre and his shadows were cornered, surrounded by pirates on three sides and water on the fourth. But Wilfre didn't look nervous. That changed when he saw my sword. That's right, I thought, You're in my territory now.

The thing was, he didn't look like a horrible, corrupted, evil shadow thing; he looked like a normal rapousa. That scared me. But I had to get over that.

"What are you doing here, Wilfre?" I asked, "Are you here to surrender? Or do I need to kill you again?"

Fear flashed in his eyes, but it was so quick that I might have imagined it. Before he could answer, Mari rushed up with Cricket close behind, and the two other heroes, Oonapentay and Dylan, both with their weapons.

I expected him maybe to back off. We all knew that not even Wilfre could fight the three of us, plus the pirates and Cricket, and hope to win. But I should have known better.

"I want to talk." he said, "Alone."

I looked at him skeptically.

Oonapentay whispered in my ear, "We might as well let him talk."

I sighed, knowing she was right. "Fine. But not here." I wasn't going to walk into a trap. "You can tell your monsters to go now." I told him.

When Wilfre opened his mouth to object, Dylan added, "You said alone remember?"

He glared at us, but had to agree. He nodded to the shadows behind him. "You can leave." They dissolved as soon as they touched the water.

"Come on," I said, and started to walk away. Wilfre followed me with Oonapentay and Dylan flanking him on either side, making sure he couldn't get away. We had to figure out what he wanted.

"Oh, you're telling them a story? About what? Mmm… Oh, sorry I forgot to introduce myself. My name is Mari. I'll tell you my side of the story."

I was walking down to the beach when I heard someone screaming.

I looked around and saw Crazy Barks running down the path screaming, "Theevilshadowisback! Theevilshadowisback!"

I didn't know what he was saying, but I knew it must have been bad.

I ran to the beach. What I saw made my blood turn to ice.

Wilfre was standing near the docks, along with some shadows. But he didn't look like the shadow he normally was. He looked like a rapousa; he looked normal. It frightened me.

Pirate Beard was already calling his pirates to come help, but I knew it wouldn't be enough.

I did the only thing I could. I ran to get Tree.

"Tree you have to come now! I think I just saw…" I trailed off, not sure of what to say. Apparently I didn't need to.

"Where?" Tree asked, her green eyes flickering with apprehension.

I lost no time explaining. "By the docks. Pirate Beard is holding them off but I don't know how long they'll last."

She told me to go tell Cricket what was happening. I ran off, going as fast as I could.

"Cricket!" I yelled as soon as his tower came into view.

He looked up at me. "What is it?" he asked me.

"Wilfre is back!" I screamed.

Cricket scrambled to get his deputy. "Where?"

I told him everything I had told Tree. He sent his deputy to find the two other heroes, Oonapentay and Dylan. Then he said to follow him. We ran past city hall, up the beach, towards the docks.

Tree was already there, and Wilfre didn't look too happy.

Wilfre said something but, I didn't hear what. The blood was roaring in my ears. But I knew enough, Wilfre was back, and my worst fears had turned to reality.

I went to stand by Cricket, hoping that maybe I could hide from him, that he wouldn't see me. When they walked away, Wilfre turned and looked back at me. He smiled. Then I knew I wasn't safe anywhere.

Jowee paced back and forth; every so often he would look at the observatory where Dylan, Oonapentay, and Tree were talking with Wilfre. We had been waiting for a long time, but no one was allowed up there. Ages seemed to pass before they came back down.

When they came out, Oonapentay was in full vampire mode, Tree looked like all she needed was an excuse to hit someone, and even Dylan looked troubled. Dylan and Tree took Wilfre back to the docks where they would make sure he would leave, while Oonapentay stayed with us.

Finally Jowee asked the question that I had been thinking, "What did he want?"

"He wanted us to surrender." she spat, "That he was too powerful for us to beat him."

I was shocked; I had never seen her like this. Oonapentay was always calm; she tried to make peace. And only when that didn't work she was violent. But never like this. I wondered exactly what had taken place in that room.

"I'm not going to say what happened up there, so go ask someone else. My turn to finish this story, Mari. You don't want to sit here all day."

As Dylan and I led Wilfre back to the docks, Dylan whispered to me, "How is he going to leave?"

"We could push him in the water," I suggested, "maybe he'll disintegrate."

We looked back at him, and at least I knew he wasn't going to try to fight us. I had my sword and Dylan had his snowshooter; Wilfre didn't have anything that we knew of.

When we got down to the docks, I looked at Dylan.

"Wilfre," I said after a moment, "how do you plan on getting... wherever you need to go?"

He looked at me, probably wondering if he should reveal anything to his worst enemies. "I know my own way, thank you. He began to chant, "Shadows sequere imperia! CHORUS tenebrarum reducet me!"

I didn't know what he was saying, but I wanted it to stop. A wall of darkness opened up above the water, making a portal. I recognized it from a long time ago.

As Wilfre walked towards it, he looked back and said, "This isn't over, and I will win." Then he was swallowed up in the darkness.

We stood there for a while. Dylan finally broke the silence, "What will we do now?"

I turned to him and said, "We prepare for war." I turned around and walked back toward the village.