Stonefall, one of the strongholds in the darklands, was created to combat the unending darkness and its horde of creatures that threatened the human realm. However, the battle proved to be a one-sided massacre. I watched as the last line of defense crumbled, shadows creeping through the cracks in the wall.
The men around me braced themselves. None of us had chosen to be at Stonefall; we were forced here—crooks, fallen nobles, and young men cast out of their lineage due to disgrace. Whatever the reason, we were thrust to the frontlines of this forsaken battle, long forgotten by the aristocrats basking in the safety of light.
From the cracks that spread across the wall like a plague, the unending darkness, darker than the night itself, oozed in and took shape. It began as a gooey liquid, but soon transformed into a worm-like creature with countless rows of teeth.
The ranks broke, and the younger ones fled. Yet, for some reason, not everyone left. We knew the horrors that awaited us if we ran. Part of me wanted to stay, to test our chances of survival in this relentless, eternal war. Something within me had broken along the way, valuing the hope of survival enough to conquer the urge to abandon everything and run.
The worms descended upon us. Men raised swords that glowed with an iridescent flame, but the flame was a minuscule spark against the waves of darkness. Yet, it held its ground. Each spark mowed down worms, but they seemed endless, filling the void left by their fallen brethren.
They reached me. I sidestepped the first, striking it down along with two of its companions. The iridescent glow spread, disintegrating the worms, but new ones took their place.
It didn't take long for the first casualty. I didn't recognize who it was, only hearing a wailing scream followed by a muffled 'umph' as another man was devoured.
One by one, men fell. The intensity of the battle grew, their numbers increasing without respite, while a creeping fatigue began to overwhelm us.
How long had I been swinging? I couldn't tell. I was no longer surrounded by mere worms. The darkness had expanded, giving rise to monstrous figures—six-foot beings with three deformed heads, countless eyes, and rot growing from them. Anything that those amalgamations touched caused rapid deformities, reducing men to piles of maggots and decaying flesh. Stranger and deadlier creatures emerged from the growing darkness.
I couldn't see the wall, nor did I search for it. All my senses focused on the task at hand: survival. Unlike before, there was no wall to retreat to, no safe haven to shield from this suffocating cloud of death that only multiplied. I was going to die.
As the thought arose, my sloppy swing left me vulnerable, costing me an arm.
Then a shadow beast seized my legs.
Time slowed, but it made no difference. I would become nothing more than a forgotten piece of history—a worthless son, partner, a good-for-nothing, better-off-dead wretch.
Numbness replaced feeling. I witnessed a massive eyeball distort, contort, and transform into a mouth in unimaginable ways. It seemed to consume everything, and in that moment, I believed my eternal rest had come.
But it didn't. The shadows flowed past me.
An explosion erupted, accompanied by tremors and thunderous noise. It took a while to recognize the sound of the collapsing wall.
To my surprise, the shadows pouring in were fleeing like a torrent. Unlike their usual behavior, they seemed to be running away.
My vision faded, numbness claimed me, but in that unsteady moment, I heard a buzzing—the buzzing of flies. Emerging into my fading sight was an apparition.
"A... ves... sel," a deep, baritone voice murmured, distorted and bone-weary.
Before I could comprehend what I was witnessing, it slithered into me. As I teetered on the brink of consciousness, the voice echoed again, this time with fury.
"DAMN YOU! LEVIATHAN! I CAN'T EV—"
And then, I lost consciousness.