Contract of the Dark

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Final Episode!

In the previous episode, Aaron, in the face of Mother Rune and her army, is faced with the difficult decision of whether or not to attempt to take out Mother at the risk of hurting Rune as well. With Raphael and Cross urging him to move forward while they hold off Mother’s karayan children, readers voted that Aaron try and take her out at all costs.

Episode 20

Aaron finds a forest of karayans between himself and the orchestrator of this war; the mother of darkness itself. He pushes through the enemy forces, his eyes set only on their leader. With the weapon that will put an end to all of this in hand, his goal is in sight. Luck is on his side this day, as the hoard of karayans do not pay him mind. The mindless soldiers of Mother Rune are preoccupied by the havoc the young man’s allies are causing.

Raphael Fantassa and the enigmatic Cross have teamed up, laying siege to the enemy, wiping them out in large numbers. Using the powers he had taken from the fallen Alpha, Raphael uses the landscape as his weapon. Tree roots bend to his command, piercing countless foes in a flurry of branches. Some escape impalement, only to be swallowed up by the ground beneath their feet, and crushed against rock.

The skeletal-faced man, Cross, continues to spew eggs from the fanged maw where his heart should be. In seconds, the eggs hatch into all sorts of monstrosities. Beasts as large as elephants scurry across the battlefield, attacking anything in sight, using their insect-like bodies to destroy countless karayans. Dozens are devoured in an instant, only to be replaced with more of the minions. Their assault continues, yet it does not appear to dwindle the enemy. Mother Rune’s army continues to pour out of the pit she stands over like a blackened fountain. A never ending flow of fresh soldiers crawl out from the underground, replacing the thousands that fell in battle.

Even if it were against a billion of the twisted humanoids, Aaron and his comrades will not falter. He charges through the army, toward the source of destruction, death, and darkness. Mother Rune watches him through the eyes of his former friend. The ethereal creature that commands the countless karayans has possession of the girl called Rune. The vessel has granted her the opportunity to move freely on the surface, escaping her prison deep beneath the surface of the earth.

Breaking free of the overflowing river of crimson eyed soldiers, he finds himself standing on the opposite side of the pit. Mother Rune watches him, her eyes soullessly staring at him. The whites have become black like the pit of the abyss from which she crawled. Cold blood-red hues glow in the faint light like a pair of crimson rings.

“Rune,” he gasps, looking at her with longing.”

“Sweet child,” she muses, her lips painted black by the darkness curl into a devious smile. “The girl you knew no longer exists.”

“No,” he gasps, “You’re lying. Rune is not gone…”

“Am I, dearest?” she hisses, revealing her fanged teeth. “Would you care to find out?”

Aaron tries to speak up, when a large hand crafted of a living darkness erupts from the pit. It grabs ahold of him, squeezing tight so that he does not escape. He tries to wriggle free, but the monstrous strength this strange hand possesses is overwhelming. Unable to break free, it drags him down into the depths. He screams loudly as he disappears into darkness. Mother Rune watches him with a satisfied smile. But then, she decides to jump down after him. A dress sewn from darkness itself fans open, as she floats down the hole like a feather along a gentle breeze.

Aaron is dragged down through the darkness, down toward oblivion. Deeper he goes, and further from the light he becomes. The walls, however, are bathed in a crimson glow. Hanging to the walls like insect grunts are millions of karayans. Every single one of them watches, but does not act. They appear to be waiting patiently for Mother Rune to give them the command to leave the hive of shadows.

The hand that has held him through the journey downwards throws him unexpectedly. Aaron smacks against something hard, knocking the air out of his lungs. A soft grunt escapes his throat, as he gets to his feet. He finds that he is standing on a floating platform made entirely out of crystal. It glows a heavenly blue in the faint crimson that surrounds it. While solid, it is also translucent, allowing him to see the empty pit fifty feet below. The ground writhes, swirling like a blackened smoke. Even in the darkness it appears especially dark. Looking closer it almost looks alive.

“What is that?” he asks himself.

“Oblivion,” a sweet voice answers him.

Mother Rune lands beside him, looking ominous with the glow of the blue crystal shining against her face.

“Or Hell, whichever your prefer,” she muses to herself. “It is a sea of nothingness, with darkness reaching out to eternity.”

“I suppose that is where you crawled out of?” Aaron remarks as he looks at her with disgust.

As if finding it amusing, Mother Rune giggles, “Oblivion and I are one. You too are a part of it.”

“What?” Aaron shoots her a look of confusion. “How is that possible? I have never seen this thing.”

“When you accepted the contract, you also accepted Oblivion,” she says, stepping toward him. “Every karayan is a part of Oblivion, thus are a part of me. Let me ask you, my sweet child: is it wise to fight your own mother? Why not join me instead. Together we can take our place in the human world, and live as we see fit.”

She moves closer, and embraces him. Aaron does not resister her, instead accepts her like the good child. Her cold arms close around him, as he rests his head against her chest. She strokes his hair, gently rocking him in her grasp. She can feel his warm tears soak into her dress.

“Rune,” he sobs, holding back the overflow of tears, “I’m sorry…”

He grabs ahold of her chest, his palm placed over her heart. Gritting his teeth through the sorrow, he attacks her with a powerful electrical surge that knocks her onto her back. The queen of darkness thrashes on the ground, feeling pain for the first time in her existence. Unable to contain the new sensation, she lets out a shrill scream.

“What?” she cries out, clutching her chest, “What did you do to me?”

“I gave you a poison that harms karayans,” he answers, looking down at her. “It is meant to make them human again, but we think it will do a lot worse to someone made up of the darkness…Oblivion you called it.”

“You little fool!” she howls. “If I die, so do you. All karayans will disappear. Oblivion has been with you since you accepted your contract. Once it is gone, you will surely die.”

“Yeah,” he says nonchalantly, “We figured as much. But if it means protecting mankind from the likes of you, it was worth it.”

***

On the surface, the fighting has stopped. The battlefield is strewn with corpses. Many have been killed in the midst of fighting, but more so simply ceased to live, as if their life forced were abruptly ripped from their bodies. And in the midst of this sea of death, only two manage to hold onto life.

“I guess he did it,” Raphael says, gasping while he holds his heart, no longer having the strength to stand.

“Guess so,” Cross gasps, barely hanging on. “I never thought doing the right thing would get me killed.”

“Yeah, me neither,” Fantassa laughs. “Perhaps it is the right thing.”

“What do you mean?” Cross asks, his breathing getting heavier.

“Perhaps we were not meant to ever exist,” Raphael shuts his eyes, becoming drowsy. “It is a way for God to correct his mistake.”

It is Cross’ turn to laugh, “A scientist who believes in God. Amusing…”

His laughter is never answered with a retort.

***

Mother Rune starts to breathe heavily, the poison taking its toll. On the walls that create this hive, thousands of the crimson lights disappear. Corpses begin falling from their perches, plummeting into the depths of Oblivion to be lost forever in endless nothingness. The crystal that was their arena begins to crack. It was her abilities that created it, and once she is gone it will disappear.

“Why,” she gasps, her time growing short. “Why do you sacrifice yourself for humans? They are beneath us, less than us. We are karayans, superior in every way.”

Even as everything crumbles around them, he answers in a calm voice, “I am a good child. My father, Alpha, taught me to protect them. Those were the terms of our contract, to make sure our kind never harmed them.”

Taking a deep breath he speaks once more, “Goodbye Rune, I always loved you.”

Shattering like glass, the crystal arena falls way underneath their feet. As they fall into the depths of Oblivion, she reaches out for him. Her hands grab ahold, and she wraps herself around him, hugging tightly. A small smile reaches her blackened lips, while her bright crimson eyes never leave his as they dive into Oblivion.

 

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