On a long and lonely strip of the Rainier Highway, a warrior walked. Kicking up dust with his heavy boots, he soldiered onward to his goal. Ahead of him, a young woman ran toward him as fast as her legs could move.

“Help!” she called upon seeing the warrior.

The warrior stopped. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

“Back at my house,” she said, gasping for air. “They’re everywhere.”

The warrior grabbed her shoulder to calm her. “Relax. I don’t understand what you’re saying. Why don’t you start with your name? I’m Nohl.”

She took a few deep, slow breaths. “Rebecca,” she said. “My family owns a house about a mile down the road. We were attacked just before dawn. I’m the only one who managed to escape. I don’t even know if they’re still alive.”

“Who attacked you?” he asked.

“Dark ones,” she said.

“Take me there,” Nohl said.

Dark ones were powerful creatures that lived anywhere dark. They were born whenever a witch gave herself to a demon in exchange for more power. Once they were born, even the witches didn’t want to keep the dark ones around, too afraid of them. They abandoned them in the woods, where they learned to fend for themselves. They were a plague that continued to cause death and destruction, and Nohl had made it his life’s work to eliminate every last one of them.

Rebecca took Nohl back to her home. Nohl expected the battle to begin immediately upon his arrival, but the house and land were quiet. No movement and no sound emanated from the tiny farm.

“It seems quiet now,” he said, but a rattling in the distance proved him wrong. He placed a hand on his sword, but relaxed as a man hurried around from the back of the house.

“Rebecca!” the man called.

“Edmond!” Rebecca ran to meet him. They embraced and kissed passionately. “What’s happened? Where are your parents and your brother? Where are the dark ones?”

Edmond frowned, tears brimmed his tired and aged eyes. “The dark ones killed them all.”

“Were did they go?” Nohl asked.

Edmond pointed at a nearby cave. “In there. That cave is new. It opened up last night. I reckon they’ve been tunneling and just broke through.”

Without a word, Nohl headed for the cave.

“There’s a ton of them,” Edmond called. “They’ll kill you.”

His words did not stop Nohl. With nothing except hatred and determination fueling him, Nohl entered the cave. It was dark and damp, but he surged ahead. As he moved further and further into the cave, the more strange noises he heard, and finally, the cave opened up to a grand cavern. Light flickered in from cracks in the ceiling. The light splashed against the rock and stone, creating a strange pattern of light and dark. Lurking within the dark patches, he spotted familiar red eyes: dark ones.

“He has come to be food for us,” one dark one said. It scurried across the floor like a rat. “We will gladly accept.”

Another one rustled in the area behind Nohl. He spun around just in time to see its smiling face in the stream of light before it disappeared into the darkness again. Mud and grime covered its face, and while it did resemble a human, the way it walked was more like a spider than a man.

“I recognize this food,” the dark one said. “It was at Darkwater Castle.”

All the dark ones began whispering excitedly, and Nohl felt the hair all over his body prickle. Darkwater Castle had been his first encounter with the dark ones. It had once been a prosperous castle in a prosperous country, but then the dark ones showed up. They came like locus in an instant, destroying everything and everyone. Nohl had been a soldier, but he was young and inexperienced. He was charged with helping some women and children escape. While he was gone, the dark ones killed everyone else and vanished as quickly as they had appeared. Since then, he had been roaming the lands, hunting them down one by one, but he had never seen as many as he had at Darkwater Castle.

“I’ve grown a lot since then,” Nohl said and unsheathed his sword. It burned brightly with fire, and the dark ones hissed upon seeing it’s blinding light. “I see you don’t like my enchanted sword.”

All at once, the dark ones attacked Nohl. They swarmed him like bees and slashed at him with their sharp claw. With a swing of his massive blade, Nohl hit one of them. The dark one let out a shriek and burst into dust.

Seeing their ally turn into dust did not stop the rest of the dark ones. They continued attacking with vicious savagery. They used the shadows to their advantage, hiding just out of Nohl’s sight and then lunging when he wasn’t looking. However, Nohl knew their tricks. One by one, he crushed them, slicing them with his blade and watching them return to the ground. Before he knew it, the last dark one was nothing more than an ash stain on his boots.

He inspected his wounds. A few deep scratches were the worst of his injuries. They would heal quickly, and they wouldn’t hinder his work. After taking one last look around the cave to ensure all the dark ones were dead, he headed back out into the light.

“You’re alive!” Edmond said.

“They were some of the weaker ones I’ve faced,” he said.

“That’s what you call weak?” Edmond asked.

With a wave, Nohl headed back toward the road to continue his never-ending journey.

“Where are you going?” Rebecca asked.

“To kill the rest of them,” he said.

As he disappeared into the distance, Rebecca looked at Edmond. “Does he mean the rest of the dark ones? There are countless dark ones in the world. He’ll never kill them all.”

Nohl continued down Rainier Highway, only knowing where he was going when he heard the screams.

THE END

Image by http://www.darkwallz.com/

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