~ Chapter 69: Nightmare ~
[The Darkness’ point of view]
Ah~ Sweet harmony of death… Such a long time has past since I last quenched my thirst with the blood of my enemies.
My memories were stranded on small islands across and endless ocean.
Time of past and moments of the future all seemed to clash in but one single body, yet our memories neither belonged to one or all… We were something else, a hive… a swarm… simply put, the darkness in Illsyore’s Inner Mind.
For the past months… or maybe it was days? It was hard to keep count when so many voice sounded in our head… heads? Each day… or days, we struggled to push our dark tendrils deeper into his soul, to pull out and extinguish that last flame of hope and sanity he had left, but it burned… Every time we touched his soul… it burned.
I was once a Primordial.
I was once a Godlike.
I was once a Dungeon Lord, and he was once a Dungeon Core.
Neither of us died peacefully. Our enemies, our common enemy, the adventurers, they… THEY were the one who struck us down. THEY were the one who killed each and every one of us!
But now we were back… Instead of fragments of a mind, we were of one being… we were The Darkness!
Before we arrived in that dungeon corrupted by Black Mages, we were of different minds and all willing… more or less… to help Illsyore. He had the soul. He held the reigns. We were but fragments of a dead and long forgotten past. Why bother with revenge and anything else?
Well, when he defeated those Mages… When he was attacked and his soul pulled out, something happened.
I… We don’t know what exactly, but it changed us. It pulled all of us together, us who were mere fragments on stranded islands. It united us and let us form our own… continent. We were at first islands, then an archipelago, then a continent. Now, we were The Darkness… That name, it had a nice ring to it, it defined us.
Now, we sat idly, corrupting Illsyore, killing him from the inside, eliminating those parts of him that made him… him and then placed pieces of ourselves there. Strange as it was, we couldn’t completely kill him… we couldn’t delete those pieces of him, but we could keep him like that, cut up into pieces, in agony, in pain, in our insanity! Those pieces… were locked away… far FAR from here, in a place where not even he could reach… or know of.
Like that, he posed no threat to me…US. He himself wasn’t aware of this fact. He himself wasn’t aware, that we, The Darkness, his shadow, were controlling him from behind.
Move left. Move right. Jump. Bark like a dog!
We could give him commands. Some weird, some simple, all ours, and none belonged to him.
Like a blind puppy, struggling to find his mother, we let him wander on an endless plain, never guiding him towards his own goal, always giving him a hint of this and that to push him in the wrong direction.
He wasn’t aware of our control. He wasn’t aware of our influence. He feared we would overtake him and sleep with his wives, but who said we didn’t do it already… through him?
Insanity would soon eat him up. Insanity would soon drive him to the edge. His insanity would soon free us and give us complete control, not just a handful of hours. Yet, he was still strong, still unwilling to give in…
We whispered to him in the night, we pushed his hands during the day, but he still struggled. Like a useless animal caught in a trap, he struggled to free himself from Death’s grasp, but it was pointless. Soon, he would be no more… We just needed time… One second… Two seconds… A few months or days? Who knew?… We just knew he would give in and fail.
Illsy, you made a powerful and beautiful body, so we decided to take it from you and do what we desired with it.
[Illsyore’s point of view]
The light was dimming all around me, the sky was dark and gave off an ominous feeling. It was like the whole world was cursing me, staring at me, pushing me down into the cracks of the charred ground.
I screamed out as loud as I could, but not even a single sound left my lips.
I had no idea where I was…
One day passed, two… then I started walking through the endless dark desert. No, it wasn’t a desert, it was a wasteland.
Dead trees and cracked ground was all I could see. The bones of humans, draconians, el’doraws, nekatars, demons, monsters, all sort of of beasts and critters decorated this place. The winds swept gently, barely lifting the dust off the ground into small spirals. The scent that caressed me was harsh, reminding me of a dry carcass, yet all around, I could see nothing but bones.
For how long I walked, I had no idea, but time felt like it was passing by quickly, faster than I could count, and I had no way of stopping it.
I wasn’t afraid just worried… but for whom?
Why am I worried? I asked myself when I stopped in the middle of the wasteland and looked up at the black, unchanging clouds.
Who was it? I thought and then looked down at my dried hands.
The crystals on my hands and chest were now… red? Not just any red, they were dark-red, close to black.
“What’s this?” I said as I saw a crack in my left arm’s skin.
I pinched it and peeled it off. Underneath, I had a charcoal-black thick, metallic skin.
“NO!” I screamed and jumped back, frightened of this sight.
I shook my head. I grabbed my hair. I screamed and groaned in pain although I wasn’t bleeding or even injured in any way or manner.
“What’s happening to me?!” I asked myself as I fell on my knees.
After a few moments passed, I looked up, and a chill ran down my spine from what I saw.
Before me stood… another me. His skin was black like, pure black, not chocolate brown or anything like that, it was an inhuman color with a metallic glister added to it. His eyes were dark-red, his crystals were dark-red, his hair was longer than mine and completely black.
He was grinning back at me, showing me his pure-white teeth covered in blood. I flinched.
“Wh-what? Wh-who? Who are you?” I asked with my lips trembling from fear and shock.
“I am… The Darkness! Welcome to… REALITY!” he laughed and spread out his arms.
I looked around. This place felt real indeed, but I couldn’t accept it. So much darkness, sadness, I couldn’t accept that something like this existed.
“You don’t believe me?” he asked in a seemingly hurt tone of voice.
He laughed loudly.
“You and I are the last survivors of this place… Well… Dungeon survivors. There’s still four traitors we need to take care of!” he grinned.
“Four traitors?” I asked and then he pointed to his left.
Where before there was nothing but bones and dust, now stood my wives and slave, all armed to the teeth with weapons and armors I never saw before, except for Nanya’s sword. There was a fierce gaze in their eyes, an unwavering resolution to finish off their mission.
“Nanya, Shanteya, Ayuseya, and… Tamara?” I asked surprised.
“The four traitors, indeed. They filled your head with muck and grime. They tainted your soul with lies of love only to abandon you in the end.” he grinned.
“No! That never happened!” I retorted.
“Really? Then who stands there besides them?” he asked and pointed back at them.
When I looked back, I saw Dankyun wearing his old armor and holding a golden sword in his hands. He was standing between Nanya and Ayuseya.
“No…” I said.
“Oh, yes…” The Darkness grinned.
“You may have defeated me once, but I won’t be defeated again! This time, my wives stand by my side!” shouted Dankyun.
Wives? I thought surprised.
It was then when I noticed the wedding rings on Ayuseya and Nanya’s ring fingers. Instead of my enchanted rings, I saw two golden ones.
“I trusted you, Illsy, and you betrayed me… Did you really think I wanted to be just one of your wives? You treated me no better than the assassins guild!” Shanteya shouted.
“You were supposed to be my master, my friend… but you became my tormentor!” cried out Tamara.
This isn’t happening? I shook my head and tried hard to remember how it all came to this, but I couldn’t.
No memory of my past seemed to come back, not even of my past life. It was like the real Illsyore was this… thing before me.
“I will go and finish them off now…” The Darkness smirked and then dashed towards them.
I watched in horror as the battle emerged. Without the [Bond of Trust], they couldn’t possibly fight on equal footing against this monster, yet they tried… and Dankyun was there, helping them.
The battle was unbalanced, The Darkness was only toying with them. Every time Nanya slashed her sword at him, the ground was slashed, the sky was cut, and he simply yawned. When Dankyun tried to attack, he was flicked away like some annoying bug. When Tamara tried to do something, she was slapped into the ground. When Shanteya performed a sneak attack, he caught her deadly dagger between his fingers and shattered it.
In other words, fighting against him was hopeless, and no matter how hard I tried, no matter how I struggled, I couldn’t think of a way to help them out, to stop his rampage. At this rate, they would die…
But Nanya and Ayuseya betrayed me first… they went to Dankyun… they married him… I began to think, feeling as though The Darkness’ words were the harsh, cold reality.
“Please… stop…” I muttered.
“AAA!” Nanya screamed as she was cut in half with her own sword by The Darkness.
“NO!” I shouted.
“Murderer! Monster!” shouted Shanteya, but her end was just as swift.
Tears flowed down my cheeks as I saw them falling, dying, one after another. Then to my right, I saw Tamara. She was injured, her left arm was cut from the elbow, and she was bleeding heavily. With a heavy breath, she looked at me with eyes filled with hatred and raised her sword up.
I felt a chill run down my spine.
Even Tamara? I thought.
“You… you are a Dungeon… You are just like the rest of them… You need to DIE!” she shouted and lowered her sword.
I screamed… and woke up.
Breathing heavily, I looked around, sweating and trembling.
“What? Where am I?” I thought surprised.
I wasn’t in that dark wasteland anymore. This was the room I created yesterday when we stopped to set up camp.
Looking to my right, I saw a peacefully sleeping Nanya, then to my left Shanteya. They were both still wearing their nightgowns, and I had my pants on. Last night we didn’t do anything, but my memories were blurry. I couldn’t trust them.
Rubbing my eyes and forehead, I tried to remember what happened, how I got here.
We were at an inn in Tranviur, a border town in the kingdom of… what was the kingdom’s name? Cordina! Yes! Cordina Kingdom. We were heading to Tesaur because Zoreya wanted to go and offer an official prayer to her god, Melkuth. We are now halfway towards Teyarion, a desert city. Yes… I remember now. I thought and then took a deep breath to relax myself.
It was all nightmare, all of that was nothing but a fiendishly and frightening nightmare. Looking down at the crystals on my arms, I was hoping to see them in their usual green tone, but it wasn’t like that.
“Red…” I muttered in fear.
My crystals held a dark-red fog that ate away at the green color. I chill ran down my spine, and I checked my skin. It wasn’t coming off. I let out a sigh of relief.
Soon… I heard The Darkness’ voice.
“Who?!” I shouted and got up, looking around.
There was no one there. I trembled and looked back down at the crystals on my hands. In that moment, I remembered the other me, the dark one, grinning down and fighting my wives.
“Illsy?” Nanya asked in a weak tone of voice as she rubbed her eyes, struggling to chase away the sandman.
“I-I’m here… I-I just had a nightmare…” I said and showed her a forced smile.
“Is that so? Relax, you’re safe… we’re here.” she showed me a gentle smile.
Instead of feeling relieved, I felt a pain stinging my heart. I remembered the ring on her finger from that dream.
“Nanya… you never had the intention of returning to Dankyun, right?” I asked in a weak tone of voice.
“Huh? That creep? No! I would rather bite my own tongue off! Where is this coming from, Illsy?” she asked worryingly.
“Nothing…” I shook my head and smiled “Just a nightmare… It was just a nightmare.”
“Well, try and forget it, Illsy, no matter what happens, you are the man I chose! There will NEVER be anyone else!” she nodded confidently.
“Yes, that’s true.” I let out a sigh and then rubbed my forehead.
“Mn? What’s going on?” Shanteya asked sleepily as she got up and let out a yawn.
While doing so, her nightgown straps fell off, and her chest was fully revealed to me. I blushed.
“Nothing…” I muttered.
“Hm?” Nanya looked at her and then smirked. “Illsy, I think I have the perfect way to cure that nightmare of yours!” she grinned and then let down her nightgown as well, revealing her generous chest.
“Erm… I’ll pass… I’m not in the mood…” I shook my head and then left.
I wanted to do it, I really did… but… I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to keep the Darkness at bay. Then again… what if I injured them while doing it? What if something happened? I couldn’t risk it.
With such thoughts rushing through my mind, I climbed down the stairs and walked outside to take a breath of fresh air and calm down.
[Nanya’s point of view]
“Did Illsy just ditch us?” I asked surprised.
“I believe so…” Shanteya said worryingly.
“Sigh… His idiotic head must be filled with worries of that stupid Darkness…” I groaned and rubbed the back of my head.
We were starting to get really frustrated because he was avoiding all of us. It was like Illsy wasn’t pleased by our womanly bodies anymore, but I would have been a fool to believe something like that.
“I really hope Zoreya can find a cure for him…” Shanteya said.
“She’s our only hope, to be honest… I don’t know how to cure something like that. I can only forgive him for whatever he does.” I let out a sigh.
“I wish I could tell him that we know and we are on his side, that we are trying our best to help him.” Shanteya said as she got out of bed and started to change her clothes.
“Me too, but if we do that… The Darkness will know, and it might try to rush things. We don’t want something like that…” I plumped down on the bed, arms spread, and sighing.
“Ayuseya is really strong… To keep something like this a secret and struggle with whether to tell us or not and when…” Shanteya said.
The el’doraw didn’t hate us for keeping this a secret from her, despite her being the first of us to enter in a contract with Illsy. However, even she understood now why at the beginning, when she first entered his Inner Mind, there was so much darkness there. More so, why that said darkness appeared to have a mind of its own and move about without Illsy specifically ordering it. At first, it helped us in a strange way, but then… he changed.
The moment of this change, if I were to put my finger on it was either when Illsy gained a humanoid body or when he was attacked by the Black Mages. Maybe, back then, his soul was weakened, or it did something to all of those minds inside of him. Either way, things weren’t looking too good for him.
I, personally, feared the worst outcome of them all… that Illsy would end up absorbed by The Darkness, and we would end up as that thing’s toys. The man we loved was Illsy, not the Darkness…
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