Splendour of a Nightmare

A short story by AD Bane

Just as the burn of yellow and orange amidst the green of the grass tells of the coming of autumn, so the birth of a child tells of the coming of laughter and merriment. Indeed, much joy was found in the occasion when once the Lord of the Citadel had announced the new son-to-be. However, it was not to be.

When the child was born into the world it was discovered he had already made enemies, for he’d been cursed, as it were, with the most horrid of hexes: he appeared as a monster by day and a serpent by night. And so it was that the child’s parents made a grievous mistake: their son they locked in the lowest dungeon, ignoring his cries for help, believing them to be a device of the enemy that had wounded their family.

But in fact the boy was sane.

A full seventeen years came and went, and still he was little more than a ruined soul, doomed to die alone. Though they sought the help of all those renowned in magic and wizardry, his parents could find no cure; and eventually they ceased looking altogether. The child was more of a nuisance; their love for him fell, and they cared not. So, with the aid of their strongest warrior and most learned mage, they moved him to the castle of Angrook, which – if legend is true – was the ancient dwelling of the Dark Mage Curious, who nearly ruined the world in ages past with his own deceit. Since the death of the great enemy, the wizards had found his castle and kept its place a secret, for if a lesser man happened upon it and learned the secrets locked in its vaults the Dark Mage would rise again, renewed from the ashes.

Here they took him, their once-loved prince, with dread in their hearts, and left him to govern his own thoughts within the confines of the castle. The doors they locked, and the bridge was collapsed. Only by a great assault could entrance or exit be achieved.

Now, within the villages and towns people grew afraid: stories were told of the monster of Angrook who would come in the night and steal children from their beds. Fathers sharpened pitchforks and kept a torch burning; mothers barred their doors, wary and full of fear; and children huddled close in the dark, terrified of the cries that filled the night. But the Lord of the Citadel scoffed the townsfolk, for he was of the belief that the beast could not escape the jail to which he’d been doomed.

Yet, one night as the early winter’s snow fell in great drifts, a young girl of ignoble birth, whose name was Splendour, found herself lost in the woods where, by happenstance, she encountered a dreadful horror, a beast of seemingly unspeakable demonry, which was lurking deep in the darkest forest of Angrook Castle. But it was not the beast of Angrook, the forgotten son of the Lord! It spoke to her and told her its name: Elkauda. It was ravenous to the point of starvation and would’ve eaten her soul; but presently one who had no fear and the strength of a dragon came out of the night and made war with the demon. They fought till the snow was laid waste in their fury, and the ground was torn, until at last the demon was thrown down and the stranger was gone, having no wish for the girl to see him for who he appeared. But she, wanting to thank her hero for his deeds, pursued him and wouldn’t give up the chase till a meeting was granted. She looked on the face of the Son of the Lord and knew him not for the beast that others had taken him for but rather for the kindly knight he’d proven himself to be when he came to the rescue of a girl in distress. No promise was he laid under, no oath had he sworn, yet he helped those who’d feared him. Without utterance of spell or magic of any kind, the curse was lifted, and he became the man he’d always been: a man fearless and with the heart of a dragon. Once more the demon-mage who’d spoken the curse over his cradle was devoured in his own fire for the devilry he’d caused, and the Citadel was again returned to joyous laughter and merrymaking.

 

 


This work is written by AD Bane and published by adbane.com. It is solely the property of ADBane.com and may not be reproduced in part or in whole for any reason except at the exclusive permission of the author. © 2011 ADBane.com

 




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