Out of the Dark
Laughter filled the mighty Viros Archives. The sound of Noah’s rich deep baritone notes mingled with the soft gentile soprano pitch of Saria’s joyous outpouring. Together their voices overwhelmed the stoic solemn isolation of the vast collection of knowledge and history texts. The song of their laughter echoed throughout the rows of bookshelves and rose all the way up to the silver-plated domed ceiling of the building. It had been this way between the Viros man and Lighthouse Bay woman since early that morning. In fact, the candid and dangerously intimate moments that were shared between Noah and Saria had become a common fixture in both of their daily routines. At this point there seemed to be little else that occupied their respective hours. If they were not enjoying the company of each other than Noah and Saria were surely thinking of the next moment they could be together. Through playful banter and an unnamed attraction that was as old as the first Argaian morning, the pair had found themselves standing on the precipice of a profound emotional freefall. Neither one would speak it aloud but both Noah and Saria just wanted to let themselves drop into the unknown abyss.
“I know the dark because my family commands the light. We wield the beacons in the watchtowers of our home with an adept hand to keep the night and it’s terrors at bay but you have opened my eyes to all manner of things that dwell in the unseen,” Saria sighed as she looked at Noah with wild-eyed admiration.
“Lady Guideman, you flatter,” Noah started as he nimbly slid down from his perch on top of the map cases. “I can conjure the odd specter or two out of the shadows and find things forgotten in the darkest corners where the sun’s grasp can not reach but I am hardly an enlightened all powerful master of the night,” he continued as he approached Saria with fluid wolf-like motion and equally silent footfalls.
Saria put up a hand that was outlined in a gentile violet glow. “Modesty, even false modesty doses not become you, Master Redmoon,” retorted Saria with a piercing cadence. Her tone and gesture halted the robust advance of the Viros man. “I never thought of the dark as anything but the absence of light. You have certainly shown me this is not the case.”
Noah gave the younger woman a toothy predatory grin as he reached into the darkness beyond the purple light that Saria’s palm cast. He plucked a bit of the shadows from the emptiness in the archives and with a slow blink of his eyes and few low words in a language that could not be found in any history book, he crafted a picturesque black rose of night and dreams. “You see though me, as would befit the mistress of a realm of lights and torches the size of mountain. A caviler attitude is a family trait of the Redmoons, most tend to tire from our bravado. I was merely trying to spare you some continued arrogance on my part,” Noah said as he offered the shadow flower to the wondrous beaming woman who stood before him.
Saria let the light she emitted from her hand to dim ever so slightly as she regarded the beautiful imagined gift that her host presented to her. The dying light helped to conceal the proper rosy shade of red that had graced Saria’s cheeks. “Thank you,” she said while tenderly taking the illusion made real from Noah’s gloved hand. She shivered at the nightmarishly frigid touch of the gift. It felt like she had dipped her fingertips in a frozen winter’s lake. The shock only lasted a moment before the rose was nothing more that shadow and ethereal vapors once again. “I should inform you that while I am well accustomed to the empty boasting of men who think themselves formidable, yours is a genuine power. I would say the Redmoon bravado is well deserved and rather more candor than lofty claim. I never shirk from a thing of substance,” Saria continued with a step towards Noah. Her breath was coming faster and her heart was booming like thunder as she drifted into highly close proximity of the man who fascinated her.
“Do not discount you own formidability. The way you dispatch chimera and make the darkness flee before you is indicative of power that takes a healthy dose of time to hone. You come by it naturally, impressive for one so young,” responded Noah with an uncharacteristically honest and deferential tone. Normally when the man exhibited praise and complement they were mixed with a heavy serving of sarcasm. He matched Saria’s curiosity and let himself be drawn in to the woman like a ship following a lighthouse to safe harbor.
Saria leaned back with a quizzical look. Her break from the mutually charming atmosphere halted Noah once again. “One so young? You hardly seem like a spirit that has taken the heavy brunt of time one your shoulders,” she said with a tilt of her head and squint of her eyes.
Noah stepped back and spread his hands at his sides in a near apologetic gesture. “I thought you knew? Those…like us… we do not live the same way as other people. Our life time seems without end. Why, the Iron Lord has lived since nearly the dawn of the Sealed Age and he is not even the oldest among us.”
A puzzled look came over Saira’s usually refined as dignified face. It was like she was trying to solve some impossible riddle in her mind. “How old are you?” she said with a lack of any breeding or etiquette. Saria was totally striped down and bare in that moment.
It was not Noah’s voice that answered the question. Instead it was an ominous booming echo like the roll of kettle drums at the peak of an overture’s crescendo that sated the woman’s query. “Why my little brother has lived five of your lifetimes,” said Moses Redmoon as he emerged from the black lightless shawl that was draped over the archives. He moved into the faint circle of violet light that was emitted from Saria’s hand. As the shadows were peeled back over the eldest Redmoon’s face the purple glow shown on a feral packmaster glint in the man’s deep green eyes. “Would you say that is correct, my dear sister?” he continued with flawless Redmoon bravado as soon as he had fully entered the circle of light.
“Five times, at least,” came the cold harpy’s cry that was Ester’s voice. She appeared out of the black behind Saria and let her sickly pale fingers run through a few errant wisps of Saria’s thick chestnut hair. The tip of Ester’s index finger lightly brushed Saria’s jaw as she passed to stand beside Moses.
The cold of the shadow rose that Noah had just gifted to Saria could not compare to the inhumanly frostbitten touch of Ester Redmoon. Saria recoiled from the other woman’s caress as if she had just brushed the scales of a concealed serpent while picking wild flowers. The purple light that Saria commanded spread to both of her hands. The hue of the illumination took on a dark red tinge and the shape of the light changed from smooth gentle beams into jagged bladelike flames.
Moses softly chuckled as he saw Saria’s newly adopted defensive posture. It was clear that his sudden arrival had the desired effect on the woman. “While I hate to interrupt this little…whatever this is…” said the man with an accusatory note in his voice. His eyes judgingly bore into his younger brother. “Abbot Torrance is in need of Lady Guideman. He did not say why but I was under the impression it was urgent,” continued the man with a pace and cadence that conveyed anything but the sense of urgency.
Saria let the fire in her hands die and picked up one of the flickering mundane candles that served as one of the few light sources for visitors inside of the archives. She glared in turn at Moses and Ester, offering words to neither. Before she left she turned her eyes to meet the vibrant emerald stare of Noah. There was a wounded and even betrayed quality held in Saria’s eyes. While she said nothing to Noah as well it was plain to see that she had many things that she wished to discuss with the man. With a renewed and detached poise Saria began to glide into the dark pathways and mazes of bookshelves. Before she was consumed by the shadows of the sunless place she turned and offered a mocking courtesy. “Masters and Mistress Redmoon, my gracious hosts,” she said with a distant and hollow element.
Moses and Ester only returned scoffing smirks.
Noah remained totally disarmed and surprised by his sibling’s intrusion. He said nothing but watched with a vulnerable longing as Saria vanished into the dark. Once Saria was gone from view and the clack of her heels upon the uncompromising smooth stone of the archives floor had fallen to silence, he returned his attention to his brother and sister. “The Abbot was unable to find some junior brother Councilman to relay a simple summons? He had to call on you two?” asked Noah with a repulsed roll of his eyes and disbelieving cross of his arms.
“Oh we just like to do what we can, whenever we can, to serve the pleasure of the Council,” chimed Ester with all the joy of a pile of rotten fruit. She flippantly tossed her hair in Noah’s direction and then proceeded to lean up against the nearby standing collection of map cases.
“Please spare me the pretense,” Noah quickly retorted with a silencing upheld palm. “You must have something that you wish to discuss with me privately.
Moses and Ester shared a cool smile and knowing glance after their brother finished speaking. Moses exhaled sharply and then took in a deep breath before addressing his younger brother with a tone that was dangerously patronizing. “Discuss with you, no not as such. It is more or a warning.”
“A warning?” Noah echoed with an edge in his voice as the promise of a veiled threat hung in the air.
“Saria Guideman is not one of us. She is becoming a distraction to you. We are simply concerned for our brother,” Ester said with a tone that perfectly befit the deathly pale color of her skin.
“Nether of you have ever cared how I have chosen to distract myself in the past. Come to think of it you have never expressed concern for me either,” Noah retorted with a tone that aptly clashed with Ester’s dripping contempt.
“When the chimera are defeated the three of us will rule over Viros, as was sworn by the elders of the Council. There is no place for Saria in the city that we shall build. I hope you realize that,” Moses said with an authoritative puff of his chest.
“What says I would want to keep her?” responded Noah with an unconvincing measure of disinterest in his voice.
Moses shook his head as he spoke to his brother. “As much as you may try, you are fooling no one, save perhaps yourself, and even then I am not so sure. This woman has got you on the verge of disaster.”
“You are worried for nothing,” Noah said with continued ineffective deflection.
“I am not worried,” Moses said as he began to slowly walk away from Noah.
“Nor am I,” said Ester as she fell in step behind Moses.
“One day you will look back on this and wish that you listened when you had the chance,” Moses said as he faded into the shadows.
Noah stood in the archives, alone for longer than he could count. He wanted to refute the claims made by his siblings but he could not. All he could think about was the splendid ray of light that was Saria Guideman. More than the thoughts of the Lighthouse Bay woman was Noah’s undeniable urge to go to her. His inability to be free of Saria’s charms was what vexed him the most. After a brief and pitifully failed attempt at self-restraint Noah went in search of the woman whose presence had become his addiction.