Darkness falls the dark.., p.1
Darkness Falls (The Dark Series Book 1), page 1
Narrow strips of light from the sun peeked through the thick foliage in the Forest of Despair. The wind picked up, creating a strange haunting howl that echoed through the trees. The dark and empty forest seemed to show no signs of life.
Except for one.
A young woman laid on her back on the ground in the middle of a burned house. The walls all around were crumbled and shattered as if there was a battle that took place not too long before. A piece of stone fell off what was left of the north facing wall and crumbled into large pieces.
The woman’s long, black hair draped around her like a dark curtain. It was tangled and its length was down to her waist. She was wearing a plain, long-sleeved brown dress and a long, black cloak.
Once light kissed her cheeks, her eyes snapped open. Her dilated pupils contracted and she took in a sharp breath of air as if she has been holding it for quite some time. The woman sat up slowly and clutched her head, trying to get a hold of herself. After the throbbing in her head had died down, she looked up and surveyed the area with her dull green eyes.
Behind her was a scorched body. Whatever identity they possessed was burned away. A wave of sadness washed over the young woman. Realizing that she did not understand who the body belonged to or where she was, she tried searching through her memories to see if she could remember anything else. All she could remember was her name, Jenevi, and someone by the name of Gaelen.
Jenevi stood up on her wobbly legs. Pain surged through her body as if all of her wounds had made themselves known at that moment. She looked over at the burned body and wished she knew who they were and why she was feeling so sad. After praying for their safe voyage to the next life, Jenevi wiped the soot off of her clothes. She needed to figure out what was going on.
She stood, staring out into the vast, dark forest and wondered why the surrounding trees seemed unharmed. With the building destroyed by fire, she would have assumed that the forest would have burned down as well.
The sound of footsteps behind Jenevi caused her to whirl around defensively. The figure in front of her was a startling old woman, but she was unlike any other typical old lady. She hobbled towards Jenevi, and in return, the young woman walked backwards until her back met the wall of the crumbling building.
The old woman had a hunched back and wore dirty clothes patched in many areas. Her long and tangled silver hair dragged on the ground behind her, collecting dirt and ash. She had long, bony fingers with long, yellowed nails. Her dark brown eyes were sunken into her face, and her forehead was permanently creased.
The most startling things about this old woman though, was her mouth. It was not placed below her large, greasy nose like it should have been. Instead, it sat on her throat. The lips were pale and so chapped that skin was noticeably peeling off.
When the old woman stood just a few short feet away from Jenevi, her mouth opened, revealing cracked, crooked, and yellow teeth with some even missing. With her mouth open, Jenevi heard the woman inhaling sharply for several moments.
Finally, the inhaling abruptly stopped.
“Jenevi…” came the woman, although instead of a matured voice, what came out sounded young and angelic.
“Who are you?” Demanded Jenevi, ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble.
“Jenevi…” repeated the woman. “Revenge is what drives you. Revenge is what makes you. Revenge is what will end you. Your immense power will not save you from your inevitable doom.”
Jenevi didn’t know how to respond to what she said. Instead, she just stared down at the woman with her brows knitted in confusion.
The mouth twisted into a smile. “Slarin be with you, my dear.” The woman snapped her fingers, and Jenevi blacked out.
Jenevi’s eyes slowly opened. Everything took a moment to adjust, but when her vision cleared, she realized she was looking up at the bright blue sky with white, fluffy clouds floating away. She felt the fresh, cool blades of grass beneath her fingers and wondered, how did I get here?
The young woman slowly sat up, but whatever the old woman did to her left a mark. Jenevi turned over with her hair cascading down one side of her shoulder and started to gag, though nothing came out. She felt the sharp pain in her head more so than she did earlier.
What did that old hag do to me? Jenevi thought as she dug her nails into the soft dirt.
After her episode had died down a bit, Jenevi stood up to survey where she was. In front of her was the dark, spooky forest that she assumed she was in earlier. When she turned around, she saw that she stood near a cliff with another woodland beneath her, although it was much more inviting. Far beyond that was what appeared to be a city.
Determined to figure out what was going on, she started to walk away, but her legs began to feel heavy and they started to shake. Jenevi couldn’t hold herself up anymore and collapsed on the ground.
She felt the acid rise from her stomach as it quickly left her mouth, causing her to lurch forward on the grass. The vomit burned her throat, and her eyes watered involuntarily. Jenevi held her hair so it wouldn’t get in the way.
The young woman leaned back and gasped for breath. She felt slightly better, but the throbbing pain in her head was insufferable.
The sound of horses made her turn her head. Coming towards her were two men. A younger man on a brown horse and a much older man on a white horse. Jenevi got up, ignoring the pain, and started to walk away. With her strange interaction with the old woman in the forest, the last thing she wanted was to talk to more people.
“Hey, wait!” called one of the men.
Jenevi ignored them and kept walking, although her legs were growing heavy once more. She knew that the two were quickly catching up with her, but she thought that she could at least try.
The young man on the brown horse stopped in front of Jenevi, blocking her from walking any further. “Please stop!” he said.
Jenevi stopped but immediately crashed back onto the soft grass. The young man jumped off his horse to help the woman, but the other man on the white horse stopped him.
“Jerrin, you don’t know who she is!” said the older man.
“Look at her, uncle!” said Jerrin as he gestured to Jenevi who kept her head down so her hair covered her face like a dark veil. “She’s sick!”
“She’s suspicious. Look at where we are! She could be one of those demons!”
“No, she’s not.” Jerrin helped Jenevi stand up, though her legs still wobbled. The young man moved her long, tangled hair away from her face to look at her properly.
Jenevi got a good look at him, though she was glaring at him the whole time. He had light skin and light brown eyes. He also had dark brown hair tied into a short ponytail, a square jaw, and his face looked neatly shaved. He wore a loose-fitting white tunic with black riding pants and brown boots.
Jenevi could see the man’s cheeks tint pink before he looked over at his uncle. “I’m taking her back to the cabin,” he said.
Before the uncle could shoot the idea down, Jenevi spoke first. “Thank you kindly, but I will be taking my leave.” She shrugged herself out of Jerrin’s hold on her arm and started to walk away when she collapsed once again to clutch
“You’re not in good condition,” said Jerrin as he helped her up. “We can take you back to our place where you can rest. I know it must be difficult to trust us, but you don’t have much of choice. You’re not going to get very far, and with light leaving soon, you won’t be able to put up much of a fight against the bandits that reside around here.”
“Jerrin,” scolded the old man.
Jerrin ignored him and waited for Jenevi’s answer. With a huff, she nodded her head, causing the young man to smile and his uncle to roll his eyes. With a smile on his face, he helped Jenevi on his horse.
“I’ll head back first,” said the uncle as he turned his horse around. “I guess I’ll get dinner ready.” He eyed Jenevi suspiciously before taking off.
Jenevi hesitantly wrapped her arms around Jerrin’s waist, knowing that she might fall off if she didn’t.
“I apologize for my uncle, Harold,” said Jerrin as his horse started to walk. “He may seem like he’s a cruel old man, but he’s very sweet and forgiving.”
“I don’t blame your uncle for being suspicious,” said Jenevi. She felt her eyelids grow heavy.
“Yes, but I wasn’t about to ignore a woman in need. What were you doing close to the forest, if I may ask?”
“I…I don’t know. One moment I was-” Jenevi stopped to rethink herself. She didn’t know this man, and she didn’t know how much information was safe to tell. “I woke up by the cliff with no memories.”
“You lost your memories?” questioned the man in bewilderment. “Do you at least remember your name?”
“Jene-” Jenevi paused for a moment to rethink her answer once more. “Jenny.”
Jerrin started to talk about the game that he and his uncle lost track of earlier, but the exhaustion finally got to Jenevi. She unconsciously rested her cheek against Jerrin’s wide, muscular back and fell asleep.
When she woke up, they were approaching a small cottage. In the front of the building was Harold’s white horse peacefully grazing on the grass. There was also a well and some vegetables planted by the wooden fence. Smoke was coming out of the chimney in great, gray clouds, and Jenevi could smell the aroma of food cooking. She sat up straight as they passed through the gates, and she immediately felt much better.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” said Jerrin as he turned his head to the side. When they approached the well, he dropped off off of his horse and then helped Jenevi down. “My uncle and I usually come up here once or twice a year for hunting. There is this nice old woman that uncle knows who tends to our garden in exchange for some of our food.”
The two entered the small, warm cottage and were greeted by Harold who came out of the kitchen, wiping his hands on his brown pants.
Jenevi finally got a good look at him. He had black hair that was turning white at his sideburns, the same square jaw as Jerrin, gray eyes, and had a darker skin tone compared to his nephew. “You two sure took your time.” He looked over at Jenevi and said, “My name is Harold, and that is my nephew, Jerrin. I apologize for not introducing myself earlier.”
“My name is Jenny,” responded the young woman.
Harold nodded his head. “The stew is ready, and there's a bowl and spoon on the table for you. You can go ahead and eat.”
“I need to talk to you,” said the old man as he looked over at his nephew. Jerrin nodded his head and then followed his uncle outside.
Jenevi went into the kitchen and grabbed the bowl. In the fireplace was a large pot with steam rising, and on the wall was a wooden ladle that already had fresh food particles stuck to it. She took the ladle and scooped some of the stew into her bowl. Instead of using the utensil, she slurped the liquid from the bowl itself and ignored the heat as it burned her tongue and throat. She didn’t realize how hungry she was until that moment.
After serving herself one more bowl, she headed back into the living room when she heard arguing coming from outside. She approached the open window and listened carefully. It was Harold and Jerrin.
“She’s trouble. I just know it.” said Harold. “Did you not see the same girl as I did? Because to me, it looks like she just came from that damned forest!”
“We don’t know that, uncle! She told me that she woke up by the cliff with no memories!”
“That’s what she said, but do you honestly believe she would tell the truth? She could be a demon!”
“She’s not a demon! No demon has walked out of that forest for Slarin knows how long, and no demon will!”
“Alright, so if she’s not a demon, what is she? A bandit? What if she is a murderer?”
“No bandit dares to come near the forest, uncle! Besides, the few bandits that have come by, we've killed.”
“Zander, what would the king say about this? He raised you better! He would have my head if something bad were to happen to you!”
“Haven’t I told you not to call me by that name when we are outside of the city?” hissed Jerrin.
“No one is around to hear! I put a bit of poison in that girl’s soup. Hopefully she’s dead by now. I had to deal with her, Jerrin.”
Jenevi backed away from the window and placed her hands on her stomach, confused. She didn’t feel sick at all, and she ate a good portion of the food. She rushed back to the kitchen and sat down once she heard the men coming back inside.
“Jenny!” called Jerrin, his voice full of fear.
Harold stared at the young woman, dumbfounded. “How was the stew?” he asked softly.
Jenevi smiled. “It was good, thank you. I’m going to go outside for a bit of fresh air.”
As she walked through the entrance, she could feel two pairs of eyes following her every move.
Outside, the sky turned into an deep orange color. It was getting dark soon, and Jenevi knew that she wouldn’t cover that much distance on foot before then. She looked over at the horses who glanced over at her for a moment before going back to their feeding.
“I can do this,” Jenevi said as she passed the animals. The young woman knew that if she took one of the horses, Harold would chase after her to chop off her head. She walked towards the forest and didn’t look back.
Jenevi could feel herself getting weary very quickly. Her breath was heavy and her legs were sore. She leaned against a thick tree trunk and sighed.
Two men, one thin with greasy brown hair and a scar under his left eye, and the other with long, blond hair and a muscular build, came into view. Once they spotted Jenevi, they smiled.
“Hey, boss! Look what we’ve found!” called the muscular man.
A large man on a black horse approached after a few moments and surveyed the area. After his gaze had fallen upon Jenevi, he smiled devilishly. “Well, well. What’s a young, beautiful lass like you doing out here in the woods alone? Didn’t you hear? There are bandits.”
The three men laughed as Jenevi scowled.
“Bandits? All I see here are three ugly, pathetic boys who have no sense of honor.” She spat on the ground.
The smile on the leader’s face quickly vanished. He looked over at his minions and said, “Hold her down. I’m going to teach her a lesson.”
The two men smiled as they approached Jenevi who was too weak to run or fight back. They each grabbed an arm tightly and brought her to her knees.
As the leader was about to get off his horse, the sun went down completely and the forest was covered in a blanket of night. The large man’s eyes widened as he stared down at the young woman.
“What is it, boss?” questioned the man with blond hair.
“D-Demon…” he started. His henchmen looked at Jenevi’s face and quickly jumped away.
Strangely, Jenevi felt stronger. The fatigue that she felt a moment before vanished. She could see the faces of her attackers like it was clear as day, and she could also hear every small noise in the distance as if it were right next to her. The sensation was almost overwhelming
“Kill her!” shouted the leader.
The two men pulled their swords out of their sheaths and stood offensively, but Jenevi could tell that they were terrified.
The blond swung his sword towards Jenevi’s neck. The woman dodged and then sweep kicked the man with the scar, causing him to hit his head on a tree root. He dropped his sword and Jenevi picked it up. She turned around and parried the blond’s attack. She got closer to him, and when the muscular man was about to plunge his sword into the woman’s gut, she quickly sidestepped, grabbed his arm, and twisted it back until a loud cracking noise was heard. The man dropped his sword and cried out in pain. Jenevi then swiftly kicked the back of his leg, sending him to the ground.
She heard the leader’s horse charging towards her. Turning around, she saw him with his sword out, ready to swing. When he got closer, Jenevi rolled away from his attack.
“Demon! I’ll kill you!” he cried as he circled his horse around.
Jenevi got ready. When the leader was closer and his sword was extended, Jenevi ducked, barely missing the sharp edge of the man’s sword, and swung her weapon upwards.
The leader’s arm, still tightly gripped to the weapon’s hilt, fell onto the ground. The large man took a moment to process what happened as his horse slowed down to a trot, but then he yelled in horror as he watched the blood pour out of his stump. He fell off the side of his horse, and as he hit the ground, his neck snapped. His body laid limply as his eyes stayed open, staring at Jenevi in pure horror.
Jenevi looked over at the blond man who was still on the ground, holding his arm in pain, and then at the man with the scar whom slowly sat up and started to shake when he saw what was left of his leader.
Jenevi held her sword out towards the man with the scar and had the point of the weapon barely touching his neck.
“P-Please!” pleaded the man as he lifted his chin up, trying to avoid the sharp tip of the weapon.
“Give me a reason why I shouldn’t kill the two of you,” demanded Jenevi in a low, menacing tone.
by Steffany Steffensen have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes