An Excerpt from The Last of The Immortal
In a flash of white light, David fell five feet onto the snow-covered ground. To his right he heard another soft thud as his friend Charon also completed the journey. Could he even consider Charon a friend? David thought as he watched the tall man pick himself up, dusting the snow off his black robes with a slight scowl upon his face. Although he might appear young, David knew he was ancient; his eyes told the story of a millennia filled with pain and suffering, the so called gift of immortality. Behind him he heard a quiet hiss as the portal closed, sealing them for the moment in this snow-filled world of days long past. They stood at the foot of a hill as the crisp morning breeze shifted through the large evergreens that surrounded them, providing little shelter from the golden rays of the rising sun.
“Where are we?” David asked, still in awe. Just a moment ago he had paced the dark caverns of Azure, firmly believing that the world had been lost and that only Charon and he had survived. It was then that they had stepped through the legendary Doors of Time and had been transported to their present location.
Charon turned in place, first recognition, then a trace of excitement appeared on his face in rapid motion. Distracted, he ignored David’s question entirely and instead sprinted to the top of the hill, sliding in the snow. When he reached the top, he fell to his knees, surveying whatever stood before him. David picked up his sheathed sword from where it had fallen and strapped it to his back; he then slowly made his way up to where Charon knelt. What he saw fascinated him. Below, a vast valley stretched out as far as the eye could see blanketed in a layer of gleaming snow. In the center of the valley a white city rose up from the plains like a diamond upon the earth, larger by far than any David had ever seen. In the center of the city a single tower stood above the rest, reaching into the horizon. David stood unmoving, caught in wonder at the sight that was before him.
“Welcome,” Charon said, his voice barely above a whisper. “Welcome to the city of Dolor, welcome to the home of Aiden.” As he spoke, the excitement died in his expression; his eyebrows shifted downward resuming their iron shield of world-weary apathy.
“It’s so… beautiful…” David replied, lost in the cloud of amazement that surrounded the city. Now that he thought about it, everything in this world seemed rich with life. The trees were greener, the wind crisper, even the sky seemed bluer; it was if the very air was bursting with perfection.
“The world is still new, this is before the fall,” Charon interrupted his train of thought, “in four days’ time Dolor will burn, and both Aiden and Valrine will disappear without a trace for all eternity.”
“Until we released him,” David sighed heavily.
“Until we released him,” Charon confirmed.
“Why didn’t you take your own life like the others did?” David asked, the memory of finding the lifeless bodies of both Ezio and Abyss hanging from the rafters jumped to his mind. Overcome with hopelessness as they watched the world crumble from the cage of their imprisonment, Charon’s two brothers had sought Death’s sweet release, leaving only Charon and he left in the ruins of a shattered world.
Charon stood, and then turned to face him. “There have been times I wanted to. When I would have gladly taken a knife to escape the weight that bears down upon my shoulders…”
“But in the end, I am stopped by the words a dying friend once spoke to me,” Charon’s brow furrowed, as if lost in the web of a passing memory.
“What did they say?”
“You ask too much, boy,” Charon snarled, turning to face the distant city.
David held his tongue, letting a moment of silence pass between them. “They are there aren’t they?”
“Yes, yes they are. Charon sighed. Many I once knew still live and breath in this time, even a much younger version of myself walks the streets of Dolor.”
“I wouldn’t mind seeing that,” David replied with a chuckle.
“Impossible. We are seven thousand years in the past; the slightest alteration of this world could completely change our own.” Charon answered his tone serious and unapologetic.
“Our own is nothing more than a scarred piece of rubble at the moment,” David countered defensively.
“I don’t think you understand. Say we do something and a person here dies who would not have before. This far removed from the present; his death could wipe an entire city from history without even a memory. We can’t disturb this era or the period of events that take place. Our only goal here is to somehow prevent Valrine from being released by us in the future.”
“Why don’t we just go to Aiden? I’m sure he…”
“That’s not an option, Aiden forsook Akentire the moment he abandoned us.” Charon’s blunt words stopped David mid-sentence.
“You owe him everything Charon. He was the…”
“I owe him nothing! Nothing! He took everything from me!” Charon roared, shouting in defiance, anger blazing across his face.
“Quiet! What was that?” David hushed his companion, averting the impending argument with a single word.
The sound of rustling leaves broke the silence and Charon’s face darkened; horror seemed to fall over him like a silken funeral pall.
“We have to leave… now.” Charon spoke in a harsh whisper.
Without a sound David followed Charon’s lead and made his way to a tree covered snow bank some ways off to their left. As they hunkered down in the frigid snow, a soft laughter echoed through the woods. Two figures, a man and woman, skipped up to the top of the hill lost in their own conversation, oblivious to the world. The woman was beautiful, her face full of youth as she twirled in the snow, sending her long golden hair swirling with the breeze. The man was also young, clothed in black robes he bore a joyous grin upon his face, the look of a man without a care in the world.
“Let’s go,” Charon whispered, sliding his body away from the two lovers on the hill. “Not just yet,” David answered, his eyes returning to the scene before him.
“What was that noise?” The man asked, his eyes following the tree line, hopelessly searching for a source.
“Probably just a bird,” The woman laughed, “Wow! Just look at this view!” she shouted, facing the white valley, “It’s so beautiful!” “Is it true what they say,” her tone suddenly dropped, growing lower, fearful even; “that he’s returning? Ravaging the North?” The man didn’t respond, instead he chose to look away, his eyes tuning out the gloomy thoughts. “Charon, answer me! They say there’s a Darkness, one that spreads over the land like a shadow, blocking out the light of day and killing all life within it. They say it grows closer to the city each day, that we should flee…”
“Flee where? Where else is there to go?” the man answered, clearly frustrated, like they had spoken of this before.
“I don’t know, I just… Aiden has not left his tower in months,” she replied reaching to take his hand.
“Aiden will protect us, just like when Valrine attacked before. He will do it again, we have nothing to fear.”
Charon grabbed David’s arm and pulled him to his feet. “We are leaving, follow me.” This time David did not resist, instead he followed Charon down the hill in silence.
Finally, when they had walked for what seemed like an eternity David spoke. “That’s how you knew what day it was, where we were… who was she?”
Charon did not turn to face him but instead looked off into the distance. “Well?” David pressed.
“This was the day it snowed…” Charon started, his voice choked with emotion, “this… this was the day she died.” Almost instantly as he said it, a loud scream echoed across the valley, sending chills down David’s spine. Charon fell to his knees ahead of him; and for a brief moment David thought that he saw a shimmering tear fall onto the white snow.